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U.S. storm barrels through Midwest to mid-Atlantic

Staff writers
March 23, 2013 — An early spring snowstorm continues to bring heavy snow, baseball sized hail, and heavy rains across the Midwest to mid-Atlantic states, while forcing the cancellation of more than 100 flights at Denver International Airport on Saturday.

Baseball-sized hail was reported in northern Florida, along with possible tornadoes (File photo)
Baseball-sized hail was reported in northern Florida, along with possible tornadoes (File photo)

A major storm brought heavy snow, baseball sized hail, severe thunderstorms and floods as it moved east across the United States Saturday, while closing highways and causing dozens of accidents.

The snow started falling around midnight in northeast Colorado and then moved into northwest Kansas and southwest Nebraska.

Twenty-five to 40 cm of snowfall had fallen by late Saturday morning north of Interstate 70 in northwest Kansas and northeast Colorado, with an additional 7 cm expected in the area, said Jerry Killingsworth, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. 

The interstate had been shut down Saturday from Denver to Colby, Kansas because of poor visibility. 

The northbound lanes of Interstate 25 also were closed south of Fort Collins, Colorado because of multiple accidents.

"It's a mess here,'' said Killingsworth, who is based in Goodland, Kansas, which had received 36 cm. "Heavy, wet snow, tree limbs down.''
Denver International Airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said about 106 flights have been cancelled, many of which involved commuter jets headed to nearby destinations or to mountain towns.

The Colorado Avalanche Information Center said up to 30 cm of new snow in the mountains could create dangerous avalanche conditions.

As much as 40 cm has fallen in the hardest hit areas
As much as 40 cm has fallen in the hardest hit areas

Colorado State Patrol troopers also spent part of Saturday working a crash near Johnstown involving a tractor-trailer that burst into flames. 

An estimated 20 to 50 vehicles, including four tractor-trailers, crashed or slid off the roadway in the area. The patrol said several people were hospitalized, but no fatalities have been reported.
The system will move into Illinois and Indiana overnight and into Sunday.

Meteorologist Dan Smith with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Illinois, said snowstorms aren't uncommon in early spring. The latest the area has seen snow, he said, was April 23, in 1910.

Farther south, tornadoes were possible in Louisiana and Mississippi, while strong winds and low humidity could lead to forest fires and wildfires in parts of New Mexico and west Texas.

With files from The Associated Press

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