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Relentless Snowstorm Punishes Rockies, Plains for Fourth Day

February 27, 1987|From United Press International

A relentless winter storm pounded the West for a fourth consecutive day Thursday, from the Rockies to the Dakotas and in areas already buried under as much as five feet of snow.

New snow up to a foot deep was a possibility for Arizona's White Mountains, where 42 inches already had fallen. The slow-moving storm has dumped between two and five feet of snow in the mountains of central Arizona, the National Weather Service said.

Snow and freezing rain continued to fall Thursday, from the Dakotas to the southern Rockies and across the Southwest.

The Purgatory Ski Area in southwest Colorado reported 21 inches of new snow, and accumulation of 48 inches within 48 hours. Nearby at Durango, La Plata County Airport was closed Wednesday night, after an American Airlines jet skidded off an icy runway into a snowbank. No injuries were reported.

"Most people around here have four-wheel drive or chains," a central police dispatcher in Durango said. "Everything's pretty much open and active; it's just slow because of the weather."

Light snow started falling in Denver overnight and turned to ice on the highways at the height of the morning rush hour. Numerous minor accidents were reported, and schools were closed in rural areas south and east of the city. Flight delays of up to 90 minutes were reported at Stapleton International Airport.

Six inches of snow fell overnight in Los Alamos, N.M., where the season's accumulation reached 128 inches, 5 1/2 inches more than the 1957-58 record set in the winter of 1957-58.

Heavy snow temporarily closed Raton Pass from Colorado into New Mexico. Police reopened the roadway later, after jackknifed trucks had been removed.

Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham declared a state of emergency in Gila and Yavapai counties, in the central part of the state, and 14 National Guardsmen were in the Payson area Thursday with cots, blankets and food for residents stranded by the storm.

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