High winds could cause power outages, or brown outs, authorities warn. This storm dropped 33 millibars from Tuesday into Wednesday. The powerful winds have left over 200,000 Denver area residents without power while Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has activated the Colorado National Guard for search and rescue operations for stranded drivers in the blizzard. 73% of flights were cancelled at Denver International Airport, where winds peaked at 80 miles per hour.
The next major winter storm is whipping through the central US with blizzard conditions in six states. The weather service said snow was falling at a rate of two inches per hour, and reported 1.8 inches at around noon. She said the snow was so blinding and numbing, and the wind was whipping so hard, she didn't feel safe walking to a hospital that was just down the road.
Tracking website FlightAware said that hundreds of flights have been canceled.
The rain component of the storm, combined with very strong winds, creates the potential for damage to power lines and street flooding may occur in places where rain falls and drains have not been cleared, according to the weather service.
The storm brought blizzard conditions to parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Travel may be impossible, CNN reports, and both flights and schools are being canceled in areas where the white-out blizzard may hit.
Denver itself is expected to get snow accumulations of about 5 to 8 inches.
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All schools and administrative offices in the Five Star District are closed Thursday due to road conditions, significant snow drifts and schools without power, officials say. And a 300-mile (483-kilometer) section of I-25 was closed from the small city of Buffalo to the Colorado border.
Wyoming had closed state offices in Cheyenne, while South Dakota's governor ordered state offices closed in 39 central and western counties because of the storm.
The storm was expected to keep intensifying Wednesday in the Central Rockies, push eastward through the Central Plains Wednesday and into the Upper Mississippi Valley and Upper Great Lakes region Thursday.
Forecasters said they expect winds of up to 70 miles per hour (110 kph) to sweep across a wide area of states to the south, including New Mexico and parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. However, the wind too will begin to subside through Thursday morning.
Because snowfall totals of a foot or more are possible in the region, the weather service said the danger of roof collapses will be high, particularly for weaker structures, given the amount of snow already on roofs.