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Arctic front brings snow from Rockies to Great Lakes, icy weather

Source: Reuters - Wed, 4 Dec 2013 08:26 PM
Author: Reuters
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By Keith Coffman

DENVER, Dec 4 (Reuters) - A powerful Arctic cold front blanketed the western and central United States on Wednesday, dropping heavy snows on the Colorado Rockies across to the Great Lakes and bringing frigid temperatures across the region.

Some mountain locations west of the Continental Divide could see up to 3 feet (91 cm) of snow before the system moves on, said Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado.

The storm stretched across the Dakotas to northeastern Minnesota where up to 3 feet of snow could fall along the north shore of Lake Superior, the weather service said.

In Denver, temperatures plummeted 40 degrees in a matter of hours overnight as a bitter cold air mass descended from Canada, dropping temperatures into the single digits. About 5 inches of snow fell in the city overnight, causing roadways to ice up.

A handful of flights were canceled at Denver International Airport, mostly headed to mountain regional airports, airport spokeswoman Julie Smith said.

The heaviest snow in Colorado was falling in the southwest part of the state as icy, snow packed roads and "zero to low visibility," closed at least one mountain pass, the Colorado Department of Transportation said in an alert.

The frigid conditions were expected to hover over Colorado for several more days, dropping overnight temperatures below zero, the weather service said.

In Minnesota, the heavy wet snow was continuing and nearly 200 crashes were reported across the state by the Minnesota State Patrol on Wednesday, none involved serious injuries.

More than 15 inches of snow had fallen in Duluth, Minnesota, by Wednesday morning forcing school closings and dozens of crashes, but city offices were open. The storm was expected to bring another foot of snow or more.

The three days of the storm could reach into the top 10 recorded in Duluth, but was not expected to approach the record 36.8 inches that fell in a 1991 storm, the weather service said.

Not everyone was put off by the snow.

"This puts us in good shape for the rest of the season," said Renee Mattson, executive director at Spirit Mountain, a Duluth ski area that opened in mid November, two weeks earlier than normal.

The snow really helps with the base and, "having all of this natural snowfall puts everyone in the mind for winter sports," Mattson added. "If you see a brown backyard you assume there are no winter sports and the whole area is covered by white." (Reporting by Keith Coffman in Denver and David Bailey in Minneapolis. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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