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Winter storm cuts long swath

December 31, 2006|From the Associated Press

DENVER — A winter storm stretching nearly from Canada to Mexico rolled out of the Rockies on Saturday, sparing Denver another round of heavy snow but trapping drivers farther east in 10-foot drifts.

Denver had expected at least a foot of additional snow through today, but the storm trudged northeast from New Mexico into the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. Parts of eastern Colorado still expected up to 2 feet, along with high winds.

"It's still a very powerful storm," said meteorologist Jim Kalina of the National Weather Service. Winds exceeding 50 mph produced white-out conditions.

National Guard troops in tracked vehicles crawled through the storm to rescue hundreds of motorists who became stranded in the region's second blizzard during the busy holiday travel season.

"They're telling me it's zero visibility," said Maj. Gen. Mason C. Whitney, the state adjutant general. "They'll kind of bump into something, and it'll turn out to be a car with people in it."

The storm, which hampered air travel through Denver on Thursday and Friday, spread snow from New Mexico to the Dakotas and generated strong thunderstorms in the lower Mississippi Valley.

The weather service on Saturday reported 30 inches of snow in the foothills west of Denver, with more than 9 inches in the city.

Parts of Interstate 70 from the Rockies to Kansas remained closed Saturday, along with several other major east-west highways. In New Mexico, Interstate 25 from Pueblo to Santa Fe also was closed.

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