Powerful snowstorm expected to sock parts of West

An avalanche injured a sheriff and his daughters Tuesday when it smashed into their home in rural Colorado, underscoring the West's late-winter woes as a powerful storm dumped more snow on California and prompted a blizzard warning in the Rocky Mountains.

Hinsdale County Sheriff Justin Casey was with his two teenage daughters in their home nestled in the San Juan Mountains when the slide hit.

Casey managed to call for help, and about 15 rescuers found the family within an hour.

"The house is destroyed. Completely destroyed," said Sandy Hines, an administrative assistant for the county.

Casey and one of his daughters were treated for minor injuries. The injuries of his other daughter were initially described as serious. She was improving at a hospital, Hines said.

About 15 homes near Casey's property were evacuated as a precaution. Other residents in the area were warned of the possibility of additional avalanches.

"This is all unprecedented," said Hines, who has lived in the area for 25 years.

Colorado's mountains have been under continuing threat of avalanches this winter, and more snow was expected Wednesday — including a possible blizzard in Denver that could bring up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow and 60 mph (97 kph) wind gusts.

As much as 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) of snow could fall in parts of Colorado and Wyoming, and wind gusts could reach 75 mph (120.7 kph).

On Tuesday, heavy snow fell in the mountains of Southern California as winter took a late-season shot at the region.

Several school districts declared a snow day for students in the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles, where plows cleared roads and chains were required on vehicles.

Mountain High ski resort at the east end of the San Gabriel Mountains reported at least 18 inches (45.7 centimeters) of new snow. Elsewhere, Big Bear Mountain Resort reported as much as 18 inches (45.7 centimeters).

Wintry weather was expected to move across the Southern Rockies and into the Central Plains over the next couple of days, according to the National Weather Service.