Denver airport shut for two days after fourth biggest snowfall in city’s history sees 27in of snow


Tens of thousands of people across the U.S. Rockies were left without power on Monday and flights were grounded at Colorado‘s Denver International Airport as the region dug out from one of the most powerful late-winter blizzards in two decades. It led to the cancellation of 950 flights.

The heavy storm, named Xylia, punished parts of Colorado and Wyoming with up to 3 feet of snow and wind gusts of 45 miles per hour over the weekend, stranding motorists on major highways, and knocking down trees and power lines, cutting off the electricity to 16,000 customers.

‘All runways will remain closed until 2pm today – no flights will arrive or depart before that time while crews continue to treat the airfield for ice and snow,’ Denver International Airport said on Twitter. A photo showed heavy equipment clearing snow-covered runways at dawn.

A group of people walk across Yellowstone Avenue in downtown Cheyenne, Wyomoing on Monday

Schools were closed on Monday. Luckily for this school bus there was nowhere it needed to be

Schools were closed on Monday. Luckily for this school bus there was nowhere it needed to be 

Snow covers nearly the entire front window in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming

Snow covers nearly the entire front window in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming

A bicyclist travels down Yellowstone Avenue in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

A bicyclist travels down Yellowstone Avenue in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

Vehicles are marooned at the curb along Washington Street in Denver after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow

Vehicles are marooned at the curb along Washington Street in Denver after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow

Vehicles sit mired in a snowdrift in Denver after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow in its wake Monday

Vehicles sit mired in a snowdrift in Denver after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow in its wake Monday

A motorist clears snow off a vehicle in Denver after a major storm. The storm has moved out of the intermountain West but forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region as residents struggle with cleaning up the snow

A motorist clears snow off a vehicle in Denver after a major storm. The storm has moved out of the intermountain West but forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region as residents struggle with cleaning up the snow

A lone pedestrian walks along Washington Street in Denver as vehicles sit draped in the snow

A lone pedestrian walks along Washington Street in Denver as vehicles sit draped in the snow

Mary Calomino, a native of Orange County, California, who now lives in Denver, clears from around her vehicle

Mary Calomino, a native of Orange County, California, who now lives in Denver, clears from around her vehicle

More than 27 inches of snow had been reported at Denver International Airport as of early Monday, marking Denver's fourth-heaviest snowstorm since records were kept in 1881

More than 27 inches of snow had been reported at Denver International Airport as of early Monday, marking Denver’s fourth-heaviest snowstorm since records were kept in 1881

A view from the control tower shows a snow covered scene at Denver with flights cancelled until 2pm on Monday afternoon

A view from the control tower shows a snow covered scene at Denver with flights cancelled until 2pm on Monday afternoon 

Crews had to treat the airfield for ice and snow in order for it to be made safe for aircraft to take off and land

Crews had to treat the airfield for ice and snow in order for it to be made safe for aircraft to take off and land 

Snow was falling during the first part of Monday with the majority of the storm having moved further east towards the Plains

Snow was falling during the first part of Monday with the majority of the storm having moved further east towards the Plains

The low pressure system was forecast to move Colorado and over towards the Great Plains with a mix of snow and rain

The low pressure system was forecast to move Colorado and over towards the Great Plains with a mix of snow and rain

Reports suggest more than 30 inches of snow fell in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area - just over two-and-a-half feet

Reports suggest more than 30 inches of snow fell in the Cheyenne, Wyoming area – just over two-and-a-half feet 

A National Weather Service report details a rough estimate of snowfall based off received storm reports. The high total was 48.5" near Buckhorn Mountain in Larimer County in the state of Colorado

A National Weather Service report details a rough estimate of snowfall based off received storm reports. The high total was 48.5′ near Buckhorn Mountain in Larimer County in the state of Colorado

‘If you’re scheduled to fly into or out of DEN today, check your flight status with your airline,’ the nation’s fifth-busiest airport said. Around 2 feet of snow fell at the airport over the weekend.

Airport staff gave blankets and water to the roughly 500 passengers that were left stranded at the airport overnight, the Denver Post reported. At one terminal, employees of a McDonald’s restaurant passed out free food, the paper said.

State government offices in Denver and surrounding suburban counties were to remain closed on Monday.

There was still plenty of digging out to do. Denver’s airport runways were closed just before noon on Sunday due to blowing snow and poor visibility and some stranded passengers spent the night at the airport. 

In Aspen Park, 25 miles south west of Denver, 32.9 inches of snow was recorded by Sunday night – almost three feet. 

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, about 26 inches of snow had fallen by noon, the National Weather Service reported, setting a new two-day record for the city, breaking the previous record, set in 1979.

Airlines ceased operations at Denver Airport on Sunday afternoon with even roads to the airport blocked with accidents

Airlines ceased operations at Denver Airport on Sunday afternoon with even roads to the airport blocked with accidents

Denver Airport  received 27.1 inches of snow. Once the snow had stopped, crews worked hard to clear the runways on Monday

Denver Airport  received 27.1 inches of snow. Once the snow had stopped, crews worked hard to clear the runways on Monday

At one stage more than 200 snow plows were out on the tarmac clearing away the snow and ice that had fallen

At one stage more than 200 snow plows were out on the tarmac clearing away the snow and ice that had fallen 

In clearing away the runways, a wall of snow began building up at the side as plows worked hard to clear the tarmac

In clearing away the runways, a wall of snow began building up at the side as plows worked hard to clear the tarmac

By Monday afternoon, four runways were open at Denver with flights arriving and departing

By Monday afternoon, four runways were open at Denver with flights arriving and departing 

Four of the airport's runways were completely free of snow and ice by Monday afternoon ready for planes to land once again

Four of the airport’s runways were completely free of snow and ice by Monday afternoon ready for planes to land once again

With the sun shining on Monday, over 200 plows were working to clear the snow and ice but the runways were not scheduled to reopen until 2pm Mountain Daylight Time, the airport said. 

Interstates 70 and 25, two of Colorado’s main arteries across the state, were shut down on Sunday afternoon, along with Interstate 80, which runs east-west across Wyoming. 

In Wyoming, the National Weather Service warned that driving would remain dangerous for the next several days there because of slick and snow covered roads. Motorists were advised to stay off them.

More snow was expected across the Rockies on Monday evening and into Tuesday, although National Weather Service forecasters expected it to be considerably lighter and wreak less havoc.

The weather system bringing blizzards to the Rockies was also responsible for severe thunderstorms in Texas over the weekend, including reports of multiple tornadoes on Saturday in the Texas Panhandle.

The storm system, fueled by moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, had moved out of the region and into northeastern Nebraska by Monday, said Evan Direnzo, a meteorologist for the weather service in Boulder.

A snowplow clears the offramp near Monument Hill on I-25 on Monday

A snowplow clears the offramp near Monument Hill on I-25 on Monday

A car that may have been exiting on the off-ramp to Tomah Rd. near Castle Rock, Colorado was still waiting for removal on Monday. All the vehicles that were stuck on I-25 were removed by the time the interstate reopened on Monday morning. There were still vehicles on the outer roads that were still waiting for removal

A car that may have been exiting on the off-ramp to Tomah Rd. near Castle Rock, Colorado was still waiting for removal on Monday. All the vehicles that were stuck on I-25 were removed by the time the interstate reopened on Monday morning. There were still vehicles on the outer roads that were still waiting for removal

Drivers on all-terrain vehicles drive down Yellowstone Avenue in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

Drivers on all-terrain vehicles drive down Yellowstone Avenue in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

A man uses a sled to shovel out his stuck vehicle on Monday in downtown CheyennemWyoming, shutting down roads, closing state legislatures in both states, and interfering with COVID-19 vaccinations. The 27 inches (68 centimeters) that had fallen by the end of Sunday at Denver International Airport on the plains east of downtown made it the fourth biggest snowfall in the city's history, according to the National Weather Service in Boulder. (Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP)

A man uses a sled to shovel out his stuck vehicle on Monday in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming after a powerful late-winter snowstorm dumped over 3 feet of heavy, wet snow on parts of both Colorado and Wyoming

Cars sit in an apartment parking lot while buried in snow in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cars sit in an apartment parking lot while buried in snow in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cars and pedestrians travel down West Lincoln way in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

Cars and pedestrians travel down West Lincoln way in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

A pickup truck sits covered in snow in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

A pickup truck sits covered in snow in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

Two vehicles are seen stuck near Castle Rock, Colorado after Winter Storm Xylia dumped snow on the region

Two vehicles are seen stuck near Castle Rock, Colorado after Winter Storm Xylia dumped snow on the region

Alex Nauman, top right, Dave Mehta, left, and another good Samaritan pull Kirk Cyborowski and his wife out of the deep snow in Woodland Park, Colorado Monday

Alex Nauman, top right, Dave Mehta, left, and another good Samaritan pull Kirk Cyborowski and his wife out of the deep snow in Woodland Park, Colorado Monday

A car sits buried in snow on West 17th Street in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday. In Wyoming, the National Weather Service warned that driving would remain dangerous for the next several days there because of slick and snow covered roads

A car sits buried in snow on West 17th Street in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday. In Wyoming, the National Weather Service warned that driving would remain dangerous for the next several days there because of slick and snow covered roads

A bicyclist travels down Yellowstone Avenue in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

A bicyclist travels down Yellowstone Avenue in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Monday

Winter Storm Xylia dumped nearly three feet of snow across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska

Winter Storm Xylia dumped nearly three feet of snow across Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska 

After the storm had passed, the white stuff made for a pretty wintry scene with a back deck covered in snow

After the storm had passed, the white stuff made for a pretty wintry scene with a back deck covered in snow

Members of the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado were seen out measuring the snowfall

Members of the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado were seen out measuring the snowfall 

Mail boxes were seen to be completely buried by the sheer amount of snow that fell on Sunday into Monday. Office picnic tables are also in deep

Mail boxes were seen to be completely buried by the sheer amount of snow that fell on Sunday into Monday. Office picnic tables are also in deep

A sports-utility vehicle climbs Pearl Street in Denver as people head to their cars to see if they can be dug out and moved

A sports-utility vehicle climbs Pearl Street in Denver as people head to their cars to see if they can be dug out and moved

A lone shoveler works to clear a walkway in Denver. One of many residents working to shift the snow somewhere

A lone shoveler works to clear a walkway in Denver. One of many residents working to shift the snow somewhere

‘It´s definitely behind us,’ he said of the storm’s snow and wind. 

Some trucks and other travelers were stranded in eastern Wyoming where several major roads remained closed Monday, including routes in and out of the cities of Cheyenne and Casper. Interstate 70 across much of the eastern half of Colorado was also closed.

The U.S. Postal Service said many post offices would be closed in Colorado on Monday and mail delivery in many locations would be severely curtailed or suspended.

Federal officials shut down vaccine shipments to the region as the storm neared so the vials packed in dry ice wouldn´t spoil during mail delays, Wyoming Department of Health spokeswoman Kim Deti said.

‘We think they´ll be at least a couple days,’ Deti said. ‘Nobody is quite sure when things will be cleared and reopened.’

For a long known symbol of reliability, Monday was a "snow day" for the United State Postal Service. Delivery to mail boxes was sparse if at all in most areas. Longtime postal workers say this is the first time in recent memory it has happened

For a long known symbol of reliability, Monday was a ‘snow day’ for the United State Postal Service. Delivery to mail boxes was sparse if at all in most areas. Longtime postal workers say this is the first time in recent memory it has happened

Snow is piled in front of Cheyenne City Center Monday, in downtown Cheyenne. According to the National Weather Service, Cheyenne saw 30.8 total inches of snowfall over the weekend, 1.1 inches shy of the two-day record of 31.9 inches set in 1949

Snow is piled in front of Cheyenne City Center Monday, in downtown Cheyenne. According to the National Weather Service, Cheyenne saw 30.8 total inches of snowfall over the weekend, 1.1 inches shy of the two-day record of 31.9 inches set in 1949

Good Samaritan neighbors Larry Most (front) and Craig Scott use snow blowers to clear the driveway of an elderly couplei n Monument, Colorado

Good Samaritan neighbors Larry Most (front) and Craig Scott use snow blowers to clear the driveway of an elderly couplei n Monument, Colorado

Good Samaritan neighbors Oliver Scott and his mother, Mary Scott, were clearing the entrance and driveway of an elderly couple near County Line Road. In Monument, Colorado, on Monday. Some areas of Monument got almost 20 inches of snow during the weekend blizzard

Good Samaritan neighbors Oliver Scott and his mother, Mary Scott, were clearing the entrance and driveway of an elderly couple near County Line Road. In Monument, Colorado, on Monday. Some areas of Monument got almost 20 inches of snow during the weekend blizzard

Shortly after I-25 reopens, a line of semi's that were stuck on the northbound offramp of Woodmen Road. In Colorado Springs, Colorado wait for the north onramp to reopen so they can get on their way

Shortly after I-25 reopens, a line of semi’s that were stuck on the northbound offramp of Woodmen Road. In Colorado Springs, Colorado wait for the north onramp to reopen so they can get on their way

Vehicles sit covered in snow along Pennsylvania Street in Denver. The storm forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region

Vehicles sit covered in snow along Pennsylvania Street in Denver. The storm forced closures of businesses and schools throughout the region

A pedestrian walks along 7th Avenue in Denver on Monday under sunny skies with the storm having moved eastwards

A pedestrian walks along 7th Avenue in Denver on Monday under sunny skies with the storm having moved eastwards

Drone footage from the treetops of Boulder depict a wintry scene as the city recovers from it fourth heaviest snowfall ever

Drone footage from the treetops of Boulder depict a wintry scene as the city recovers from it fourth heaviest snowfall ever

With the exception of a couple days that are forecast to get into the 50s this week, the area will be seeing cool days and chilly nights in the near future — meaning that most of the snow isn’t going anywhere soon. Boulder, Colorado is pictured

With the exception of a couple days that are forecast to get into the 50s this week, the area will be seeing cool days and chilly nights in the near future — meaning that most of the snow isn’t going anywhere soon. Boulder, Colorado is pictured

An outdoor dining set sits outside a home in Boulder, Colorado after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow

An outdoor dining set sits outside a home in Boulder, Colorado after a major storm dumped up to two feet of snow

Cars are blanketed by the snow in Denver which came down for most of Sunday with almost three feet falling

Cars are blanketed by the snow in Denver which came down for most of Sunday with almost three feet falling

The storm also was keeping many people from getting to vaccine locations, Deti noted.

Classes were canceled Monday at schools around the Denver area and in Cheyenne and Casper. Classes were also called off at Colorado State University in Fort Collins and the University of Colorado´s main campus in Boulder. State government offices in the Denver area and southeastern Wyoming were also closed.

In the Denver metro area, all bus routes and light rail lines were suspended for snow removal with the exception of a line running from downtown´s Union Station to the airport, which ran on a reduced schedule.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center warned of ‘dangerous’ avalanche conditions in many areas of the state, including the mountains along the Front Range. It urged backcountry users to avoid areas of new snowfall prone to wind drifts that could help trigger large snowslides on what has been a particularly unstable snowpack this season. Colorado has reported 11 avalanche deaths this winter.

The blizzard was a double-edged sword for ranchers – bringing moisture that will green up spring pastures after months of dry weather but hitting as cows give birth to calves or care for their newborns, said Jim Magagna, executive vice president of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association.

‘I certainly have some concerns about those who are in calving and don´t have indoor shelter to put those cows in,’ Magagna said Monday. ‘I´m sure they´re all out there doing the best they can to save calves right now.’

Forecasters accurately predicted the storm several days in advance, giving ranchers plenty of time to prepare, he said.

The scene in Boulder, Colorado sees snow covered fir trees with highway still slick

The scene in Boulder, Colorado sees snow covered fir trees with highway still slick

A windy mountain road passing between two snow covered hillsides in Boulder, Colorado

A windy mountain road passing between two snow covered hillsides in Boulder, Colorado 

In Boulder, heavy snow knocked down tree limbs and power lines and left cars stranded across the city

In Boulder, heavy snow knocked down tree limbs and power lines and left cars stranded across the city

Motorists clears snow from around their vehicles parked along Second Avenue in Denver

Motorists clears snow from around their vehicles parked along Second Avenue in Denver

Nine Lillehei clears snow off her vehicle after a powerful late winter storm in Denver

Nine Lillehei clears snow off her vehicle after a powerful late winter storm in Denver

Chairs and tables for outdoor seating at a restaurant are covered with snow in Denver

Chairs and tables for outdoor seating at a restaurant are covered with snow in Denver



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