Denver (AP) - Gov. Bill Ritter has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard as a major spring storm brings heavy snow and gusty winds to much of Colorado.
Guard officials say they're on alert awaiting instructions.
Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights at Denver International Airport. The Red Cross has opened two shelters in northern Colorado and one in the Denver area for stranded motorists.
Soggy snow is falling at up to two inches an hour, and up to a foot has already accumulated at the base of the foothills west of Denver.
About 10 miles of U.S. 36 is closed in both directions from the northwest Denver suburbs to Boulder due to accidents and unsafe conditions. Weather-related accidents have caused traffic backups on other freeways in the Denver area as well.
Interstate 25 is closed from Wellington to the Wyoming border 20 miles away.
Both the house and the senate shut down early, as did many state and federal courts.
Denver and most of the eastern half of the state are under a blizzard warning. Most of the rest of the state is under a winter storm warning.
Forecasters are predicting up to two feet of snow south and east of Denver by tomorrow and up to 15 inches in the city itself. More than a foot of snow is expected in the foothills west of Denver, and snow on the eastern plains is expected to range from 6 to 15 inches.
The National Weather Service says wind gusts of up to 40 mph in Denver and 45 mph on the eastern plains will create blizzard-like conditions.
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