CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A raging winter storm prompted the cancellation Wednesday of more than 1,000 flights in Denver and closed hundreds of miles of interstate highways in other parts of the West and Upper Midwest.
The storm brought blizzard conditions to parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Warnings extended to North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, where the storm was expected to hit Thursday.
The storm could rival one that hit the region in 1979 in terms of the extent of heavy snowfall, according to meteorologist Richard Emanuel with the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, where wind was gusting to 60 mph (96 kph) with heavy snow.
Planes were grounded in Denver, Casper and Cheyenne. Schools were closed in many places where more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow and winds as high as 80 mph (129 kph) were possible.
Government workers in Denver, Wyoming and South Dakota were told to stay home and many colleges also closed their campuses.
Hundreds of miles of interstate and smaller highways were closed in Wyoming and western Nebraska because of whiteout conditions.
A 250-mile (402-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 80 from Cheyenne to Rock Springs in southern Wyoming was closed, along with a 300-mile (483-kilometer) section of Interstate 25 from Buffalo, Wyoming, to the Colorado border.
About 100 miles (161 kilometers) of Interstate 80 was closed in western Nebraska.
Winter storm warnings for heavy snow were issued throughout the region, including areas of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.
Rivers in Wisconsin are expected to reach flood stage over the next few days as thunderstorms and showers melt away snow that has accumulated this winter.