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Mid-May storm buries Colorado flower beds under 3 feet of snow

Source: Reuters - Mon, 12 May 2014 22:06 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Adds avalanche conditions hamper recovery of small plane wreckage)

By Barbara Goldberg and Laura Zuckerman

May 12 (Reuters) - A mid-May snowstorm dumped as much as 3 feet of snow on Colorado's Rocky Mountains on Monday, while the U.S. Midwest braced for hail and other severe weather, forecasters said.

Plows cleared the way for the Monday morning rush hour after the storm blanketed Denver with more than 4 inches of snow and the mountains northeast of Steamboat Springs with 36 inches, said Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado.

No significant delays or cancellations were reported at Denver International Airport, and no records were broken in a state used to late spring snowstorms like the one that dumped 10.7 inches on May 26, 1950.

"That's Colorado for you," Kalina said.

Snow has been falling and accumulating over the past four days in Colorado, said Pat Slattery, weather service spokesman. Deep snow measuring 27 inches also was reported in the Uinta Mountains in Utah, said NWS meteorologist Tom Renwick.

In neighboring Wyoming, avalanche conditions hampered rescuers' efforts to reach the wreckage of a single-engine airplane carrying two elderly brothers that crashed into a mountainside near Yellowstone National Park last week.

The plane, carrying 84-year-old pilot Robert Zimmerman of Alabama and his 86-year-old brother, Ward Zimmerman, of Seattle, was spotted on Monday in a ravine below an unstable ridge of snow that threatened to unleash an avalanche, Wyoming authorities said.

The condition of the plane's occupants was not known, said Lance Mathess, spokesman for the Park County Sheriff's Office. The plane, a 1963 Mooney M20C, lost a wing during the accident and sustained severe front-end damage, he said.

The brothers took off from Yellowstone Regional Airport on Tuesday with plans to fly over the park en route to Idaho. Family members notified authorities after the aircraft failed to arrive in Idaho and they were unable to contact the men, Mathess said.

To the east, hail and damaging winds were forecast for Monday in parts of Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, southeast Kansas, Oklahoma, central Texas, Arkansas, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, northern Indiana and northwest Ohio, Slattery said.

The severe weather forecast comes after a tornado on Sunday heavily damaged Sutton, Nebraska, ripping off roofs of buildings including the small town's City Hall, said police chief Tracey Landenberger.

Sutton is about 80 miles southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska. (Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York and Laura Zuckerman in Idaho; Editing by Scott Malone, Lisa Von Ahn and Leslie Adler)

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