A blast of arctic air surged over the nation's central and northern regions Saturday, dumping up to a foot of snow from the Rockies to the Plains and plunging temperatures below freezing as far east as the Great Lakes.
Colorado was hardest hit, with snow snarling traffic in Denver but bringing smiles to the faces of ski resort operators.
Twelve inches of snow was recorded at Winter Park Ski resort and as much as 20 inches was expected to accumulate over Colorado's southwest mountains. Up to eight inches was forecast for the foothills and other mountain areas of the state.
Nearly 3 1/2 inches of snow in Denver caused up to 20-minute delays at Stapleton International Airport and triggered a rush to city garages for tuneups and snow tires.
Along Continental Divide
Heavy snow fell in Colorado along the eastern slopes of the Continental Divide, with 14 inches of snow on the ground at Sky Ranch, 12 at Conifer, 11 at Wondervu and nine at Leadville.
Five inches had accumulated at Colorado Springs; three inches at Cheyenne, Wyo., and two inches at Sidney, Neb., and Goodland, Kan.
A warning of heavy snow was posted for the mountains of southwestern Colorado, with 10 to 20 inches of new snow possible by today. Travelers' advisories warning of snow were issued for northwestern Kansas, southeastern Wyoming and northeastern and central Colorado. A livestock advisory was issued for the southern Panhandle and southwestern Nebraska.
Temperatures fell into the teens over the northern Plains and lows in the 20s were common over the northern and central Rockies, the upper Mississippi Valley, northern and central Nevada and Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Heads Toward East
"The coldest air of fall is coming across parts of the central and northern United States," said Bill Barlow of the National Weather Service. "It will spread into the Great Lakes and northern parts of New England Sunday and Monday."
The jet stream was forcing the arctic air toward the East, "but it may not be quite as cold by the time it gets there," he said.
Wind chill values were in the single digits over much of the northern Rockies, the northern Plains and Minnesota.
Temperatures were mild in the eastern third of the nation and on the West Coast, while showers fell from the mid-Atlantic states across Carolina, into Georgia and the Florida Peninsula, with a few scattered showers in the Great Lakes and the Ohio Valley.