Spring snowstorm rocks Rockies, menaces Midwest

Story highlights

  • I-25 in northern Colorado reopens, though visibility is still poor, a state agency says
  • A burning semi-tanker was among 20-50 vehicles involved in wrecks there
  • Part of Interstate 70 was also shut down, as Colorado got hit hard by the spring snowstorm
  • The storm is now heading into the Midwest and could eventually hit Washington

If there was ever a time to doubt the prognosticating abilities of Punxsutawney Phil, this might be it.

Last month, the legendary Pennsylvania groundhog failed to see his shadow, thereby predicting an early spring. But at this point, people in the Rockies and Midwest would have been happy if it felt like spring when the season officially began -- on Wednesday -- as winter won't go quietly.

Much of Colorado was pummeled with snow Saturday, causing travel-related and assorted other headaches.

In the eastern part of the state, white-out conditions prompted authorities to close 154 miles of Interstate 70 from Denver to the Kansas line. And those wishing to fly out of Denver International Airport just had to wait.

About 45 miles north of Denver, Interstate 25 northbound shut down Saturday afternoon after a weather-related incident ensnared 20 to 50 vehicles that either crashed or spun off the roadway, the Colorado State Patrol reports.

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Flames engulfed a semi-tanker caught up in the mess, which also affected at least four tractor-trailer trucks. Video posted on CNN affiliate KUSA's website showed the burning tanker, with parts of two cars pinned underneath.

That part of the highway stayed closed until 4:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. ET). Even then, the Colorado Department of Transportation warned drivers that there were still "high winds and poor visibility in the area."

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But at least folks in Colorado can take solace in the fact the snow should stop Saturday night. The same cannot be said for points east, from Kansas and far beyond.

While they're expire soon in the Centennial State, winter storm warnings will be in effect for four other states through, in some spots, Sunday night.

The fun has already started in parts of Kansas and Nebraska, with the snowstorm expected to roll over the Great Plains between interstate highways 70 and 80, according to CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis.

Kansas City and St. Louis, for instance, are among those cities facing winter storm warnings thanks to snow that could fall through late Sunday.

A car lies flipped after an accident on Interstate 25 near Pueblo, Colorado, on Saturday.

The system will continue to barrel east from there, dumping snow on Louisville, Kentucky, and, by Monday, possibly on Washington, D.C., Maginnis said.

And it's not just a matter of snow. In many locations, the storm will kick off as rain before temperatures cool and it changes to snow -- with other precipitation permutations such as sleet possible.

Add in winds that could gust up to 40 mph, it equates to a big wintry mess -- whatever the calendar says.

You call this spring?

"I don't think this will be one for the record books, but it is definitely going to add some interest this weekend and to the work week," Maginnis said.

Winter weather overstays its welcome