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Travel Disrupted for Third Day : 12-Ft.-High Snowdrifts Plague Midwest

March 26, 1987|From Associated Press

Sections of Kansas and Nebraska remained snowbound for a third day Wednesday as a storm piled snow into drifts up to 12 feet high, closing roads as fast as they were plowed, authorities said.

A 400-mile stretch of Interstate 70 was closed in Kansas and Colorado, and 200 miles of Interstate 90 were closed overnight in western South Dakota.

On the east side of the snow belt, flooding closed roads and threatened homes.

Snowfall was tapering off over central and southwestern South Dakota, central and western Nebraska, northwestern Kansas and northeastern Colorado, but wind continued to blow at 25 to 35 m.p.h., the National Weather Service said.

Winds Hamper Crews

Roads reopened in southwestern Kansas but gusty winds frustrated road crews in the northwest.

"They are out there doing some work, but they are having trouble with their own equipment getting stuck," one Highway Patrol dispatcher said. "The wind is blowing and it gets covered again just as fast as they scrape it off."

Up to 10,000 people were without power in Kansas, but utility officials said they could not get into the hardest hit areas to make an accurate estimate.

The 250 miles of Interstate 70 from Salina, Kan., to the Colorado state line remained closed, a Highway Patrol spokesman said. "The crews are out working trying to clear the roads, but then the wind blows them shut again."

Keeping Travelers Out

A 150-mile section of Interstate 70 was closed in Colorado from Watkins to the Kansas border, not because of snow but because Kansas asked for help in keeping travelers from entering the snowbound area, the Highway Patrol said.

Up to 20 inches of snow, piled into nine- to 12-foot drifts by winds gusting to 50 m.p.h., closed roads around Broken Bow, Neb.

"Some people don't believe how bad it is and they go out," Custer County sheriff's dispatcher Ron Baker said. "A few hours later, we get a call and they're stuck in a ditch."

In southeastern Nebraska, U.S. 136 through Beatrice was under four feet of water from the Big Blue River, which was about 10 feet above its banks.

In eastern Kansas, high water closed several roads between Great Bend and Hoisington, a state official said. Some residents of Great Bend fled their homes after sandbagging failed to hold back Walnut Creek.

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