Colorado hit by blizzard conditions

March 9, 2013 at 9:27 PM

DENVER, March 9 (UPI) -- Blizzard conditions in Colorado Saturday forced the cancellation of more than 600 flights in Denver, officials said.

By 6 p.m., the National Weather Service reported 9 inches of snow near Strasburg with winds up to 43 mph, whipping up drifts as deep as 4 feet, The Denver Post reported. Snow up to 15 inches deep was reported in the region's foothills.

The storm led authorities to close sections of Interstate 70 and U.S. 40, the newspaper said.

"Is this how it is in Colorado?" asked Alan Schultz, whose ski group from Birmingham, Ala., postponed its sport utility vehicle ride to the slopes because of the treacherous road conditions.

The dangerous, snow-packed roads were implicated in a two-car crash on Highway 50 east of Gunnison that killed a 5-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl, the Colorado State Patrol said. One driver was hospitalized in serious condition and the other suffered minor injuries.

It was snowing at the time of the crash, the State Patrol said.

Denver proper actually got only a few inches of snow, much less than the 16 inches, predicted.

"It hasn't been piling up like we expected," Bernie Meier, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boulder, said. "It has been melting more than we thought."

Temperatures are expected to rebound into the 40s Sunday and hit the mid-60s by mid-week.

The Post said the worst of the storm hit the Eastern Plains, where winds gusted up to 50 mph Saturday afternoon, whipping the snow into white-out conditions.

Accuweather.com said heavy snow would spread from the Rockies to parts of the Plains States into Sunday.

Blowing snow would be replaced by blowing dust over the deserts from New Mexico to western Texas, the weather service said.

Thunderstorms with hail are possible from Austin, Texas, to Tulsa, Okla., Accuweather.com said.

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