updated 3/1/2007 7:45:36 AM ET 2007-03-01T12:45:36

Potent winter storms caused dozens of vehicle crashes with injuries in Colorado and Washington state, prompting the closure of two major highways in both states. More harsh weather was expected Thursday.

In Colorado, where the storm dumped more than a half-foot of snow, state police reported that 18 people were taken to hospitals, four with serious injuries and the others with minor to moderate injuries.

A 12-mile northbound stretch of Interstate 25 — the state’s main north-south route—was closed for several hours north of Colorado Springs because of the wrecks and treacherous conditions.

Master Trooper Ron Watkins said authorities had to send a school bus to collect stranded motorists and take them to a hotel.

Watkins’ advice to other drivers: “Stay away from the area.”

The National Weather Service had predicted less than 3 inches of snow for Denver, to arrive later in the day, but winds began wringing moisture out of the air around sunrise and big flakes began piling up quickly.

At least 7 inches of snow fell in the suburbs west of Denver, and 10 inches fell in the foothills.

Dozens of collisions on I-90
In Washington, as many as 60 vehicles were involved in collisions on I-90 near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass, State Patrol Trooper Jeff Merrill said. The crashes led authorities to close the highway in both directions late Wednesday.

Details were few, but some accidents involved injuries, at least four of which Merrill described as serious.

The forecast called for snow and slush accumulations of as much as 6 inches Wednesday night in parts of King and Snohomish counties, while Snoqualmie Pass was expecting as much as 10 inches of snow, the Transportation Department said.

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