A Canadian cold front more typical of midwinter than early spring moved into the northern Plains on Friday, bringing snow and strong, bitter winds.
The arctic air, producing gusty north winds of up to 40 m.p.h. in North and South Dakota, spread snow and freezing rain from Montana and the Dakotas to Nebraska and Colorado, where up to four inches of snow was forecast.
The spring snowstorm made for a messy morning rush hour in Denver, and accident alerts were issued for much of the metropolitan area, which meant that people involved in minor, non-injury accidents were not to call police unless alcohol use was involved.
Denver Schools Close
Schools east of Denver started closing before noon, as wind gusts in excess of 50 m.p.h. whipped up snow and reduced visibility.
"The wind isn't blowing super hard, but it's blowing enough to create some whiteouts occasionally and it's starting to drift," said Bill Fears, superintendent of the Byers School District in Colorado.
The National Weather Service issued livestock advisories in Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas.
"The combination of snow with gusty winds and much colder temperatures will place a stress on livestock in these areas," said Pete Reynolds, spokesman for the weather service.
Morning lows were mostly in the 20s from the northern and central Plateau across the Rockies and into the northern half of the Plains.
Temperatures were expected to be in the single digits today across much of Montana and North Dakota, the weather service said.
In central and south-central Kansas, floods threatened farmlands and some rural residential areas. Floodwaters covered thousands of acres of farmland north of Hutchinson.
Helicopters Deliver Hay
In western Kansas, three Huey helicopters with 1,500-pound bales of hay slung beneath them swooped down on snow-covered pastures to help feed stranded cattle.
Elsewhere, showers and thunderstorms extended across the northern Gulf of Mexico into central Florida. Rain dotted southern Texas and Louisiana, as well as across northern Illinois into southwest lower Michigan.