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Colorado Digs Out From Major Blizzard

March 21, 2003|From Associated Press

DENVER — Weary travelers began flying out of Denver's airport Thursday as commuters crept back to work across snow-packed and slushy streets after Colorado's worst blizzard in 90 years.

At Denver International Airport, thousands of travelers who had spent two nights on couches and floors stood in snaking lines for tickets, hoping to be among the lucky few to depart Thursday.

Two of the airport's five runways had reopened by Thursday afternoon. United Airlines, the dominant carrier, was flying in employees from Chicago and other cities to help at ticket counters, filling the gaps left by United employees in Denver who were still snowed in and unable to get to work.

Despite clear skies and temperatures climbing into the 40s, many residents remained snowbound because residential streets packed with 5- and 6-foot-high drifts made passage nearly impossible. Abandoned vehicles were still scattered across metropolitan Denver.

Some government agencies, including the Legislature, and businesses reopened as staffing allowed. Post offices were open and mail delivery resumed. However, most schools remained closed.

A 60-mile stretch of Interstate 70 west of Denver was closed because of avalanche danger. Colorado Department of Transportation crews used explosives to set off slides and lessen the danger.

About 300 skiers stranded since Tuesday at a ski area outside Boulder after an avalanche blocked the road began to leave Thursday afternoon after state and county crews cleared the road that was closed by an avalanche.

The storm swept into Colorado on Monday with rain that turned to heavy snow by Tuesday. It delivered up to 7 feet of snow before heading east into Kansas.

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