A large spring snowstorm delivering heavy snow, high winds and rain was causing travel problems from Wyoming to Chicago on Tuesday.
In Wyoming, some big stretches of Interstates 25 and 80 were closed Tuesday morning before being reopened, but snow and blowing snow conditions were still making driving dangerous along the interstates and smaller highways. No unnecessary travel was advised Tuesday afternoon on about 180 miles of I-25 between Cheyenne and Casper because heavy snow was causing near white-out conditions.
Meanwhile, freezing rain, snow and strong winds, were hitting Kansas and South Dakota, where numerous local elections were postponed. Some schools in Minnesota dismissed students early as travel conditions deteriorated.
Snow in the Denver area has been lighter than expected but around 500 flights have been cancelled at Denver International Airport and deicing was delaying departures.
Flights bound for Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, meanwhile, were being delayed an average of nearly four hours because of dense fog.
Tornadoes were also possible in parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas later in the day.
While April snowstorms aren't unusual in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain West, the storm comes after a rather tame winter in many areas.
"We haven't really had bad days like today where everybody is stuck and nobody can go anywhere," Sam Blaney, who was working the service counter at the Petro truck stop in Laramie, said.
About two dozen truckers and other motorists took refuge at the truck stop to wait out the storm, Blaney said.
Many areas of Wyoming and western Nebraska received more than a foot of snow. In western Nebraska, road crews reported 8- to 9-foot drifts.
"I'm pretty confident that this particular storm is more widespread and has caused more travel problems and closures than any storm we've had this calendar year certainly," Bruce Burrows, spokesman for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said.
As the storm moved into Colorado Monday night, two tornadoes were reported near Akron on eastern Colorado's plains though forecasters haven't confirmed the twisters yet. A trailer home rolled over onto its top, a roof blew off a barn and six power poles were toppled, Washington County undersheriff Jon Stivers said.
A motorcycle dealership partially collapsed in Pueblo, Colo., where winds gusted to 64 mph.
In Wyoming's Sweetwater County, wind gusts up to 71 mph damaged a marina at Flaming Gorge Reservoir and broke windows at the Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs, according to the National Weather Service.
About 1,200 customers in Rock Springs lost power Monday afternoon after winds broke a cross-arm at the top of a power pole. Some residents in Lamont, a small town north of Rawlins, were without power Tuesday. Repair crews used snowcats to access the downed lines, Rocky Mountain Power Company spokesman Jeff Hymas said.
Cold temperatures that made it feel more like January or February engulfed the entire state with many areas expecting daytime temperatures in the teens and 20s.
The National Weather Service said Cheyenne's high of 12 degrees Tuesday was the coldest on record for April 9. The previous record was 23 degrees set in 1997.
The temperature in Denver was expected to dip below 10 degrees with wind chills possibly below zero Tuesday night and early Wednesday.
The same storm system toppled trees in San Francisco, produced gusts over 80 mph in southern California, fanning wildfires, and kicked up a dusty haze in Phoenix on Monday, closing a stretch of Interstate 40 in northern Arizona.
Associated Press writers Colleen Slevin and Alexandra Tilsley contributed to this report from Denver.