A blizzard with gusts of 50 m.p.h. pummeled the Plains states Monday with as much as 20 inches of snow and drifts several feet deep, bringing an abrupt end to a spell of mild weather and shutting down local governments, schools, businesses and miles of highways.
The storm had stranded about 200 travelers overnight at Castle Rock Junior High School, south of Denver. Some travelers also spent the night at Denver's Stapleton International Airport after a number of flights were canceled.
At the height of the storm, most major roads were closed by blowing, drifting snow across southeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado and western Nebraska. Schools were closed Monday there and in parts of western Kansas.
In western Nebraska, rescuers found 15-year-old Matt Myers, who had been missing since Sunday afternoon, when he went for a walk with his dog before the storm hit.
The boy was in critical condition with hypothermia; his dog, Katie, was sent home in good shape.
Snow also streamed northeastward from the main storm with accumulations up to 9 inches across parts of South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, shutting some schools.
By the time the heaviest snow moved eastward over the Plains, accumulations in Colorado included 20 inches northeast of Boulder and 16 inches in the western Denver suburb of Wheat Ridge.
Interstate 70 was closed from Denver's eastern outskirts to Burlington, and I-25 was shut from Ft. Collins to the Wyoming border, and north of Colorado Springs.
The Wyoming Highway Patrol closed nearly 100 miles of I-80 from the Nebraska border to Laramie, and roughly 200 miles of I-25 from Casper to the Colorado border. Roads in the Cheyenne area had reopened by midday.
State offices in Cheyenne were closed during the morning, and some travelers spent the night in the Cheyenne Civic Center.