Kris Garlick-beaty  /  AP
Jane Nelson of Spearfish, S.D., shovels out from under two feet of snow that immobilized the town and closed I-90 and the schools throughout South Dakota’s Black Hills on Monday.
updated 3/1/2004 8:44:39 PM ET 2004-03-02T01:44:39

Heavy snow blown by wind up to 45 mph closed hundreds of miles of highways Monday in South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, shutting down schools and at least one city government.

More than a foot of snow had fallen in parts of Wyoming, with 30 inches in the Colorado mountains, and snow drifted onto roads in South Dakota on Monday as fast as plows could clear them.

“It’s been snowing since Saturday night,” totaling about 15 inches, said manager Norene Dvorak at the Mid-America Travel Plaza at Belle Fourche, S.D. Drifts were 5 feet high, as high as the letters on some stop signs, she said.

The storm was headed toward the northeast, and the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for northeastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol closed 110 miles of Interstate 90 from Wall to the Wyoming state line because of snow, drifting and visibility that was down to zero in places. The highway reopened Monday afternoon.

“We’re pretty full here with truckers,” said Debbie Olney, a cashier at the Badlands Travel Stop along I-90 at Kadoka, S.D. “It’s snowing and blowing, and we’ve got drifts.”

Up against it at Wall
Truck driver Marvin Huether of Granite City, Ill., spent the night at the Wall Auto Livery at Wall, S.D.

“Visibility at times got down to almost nothing,” Huether said. “You get to where you can’t see the white lines on the highway, it’s time to get off the roads.”

Western Nebraska had 8 to 10 inches of snow, and a 100-mile stretch of I-80 was closed from Big Springs to the Wyoming line, along with other highways in the Panhandle and southwestern Nebraska.

Mail service was suspended at Chadron, Neb., which got about 11 inches of snow, and the Dawes County Courthouse was closed. Rapid City, S.D., Mayor Jim Shaw closed most city offices, and police said cars were stuck in the middle of streets.

Stretches of I-80 and I-25 also were closed overnight in eastern Wyoming, but they were reopened by noon Monday. About 15 inches of snow fell in central Wyoming, while nearly 30 inches fell at Coal Bank Pass in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado.

Major roads also were closed in northeastern Colorado, stranding hundreds of motorists at motels and truck stops. Two churches, in Limon and Hugo, and a school in Agate opened to shelter travelers.

‘Two to a pew’
“We slept two to a pew last night. Some of our guys slept on our bus,” said Kathy Koehn, one of about 40 people from Quinter, Kan., who spent the night at the First Baptist Church in Limon, Colo., 86 miles east of Denver. They were returning home from Cripple Creek, Colo., when they were forced to halt.

Colorado and Kansas police closed about 200 miles of I-70 from the Denver metropolitan area to Colby, Kan., as motels along the route filled up with snowbound travelers. Westbound I-70 was reopened by midday Monday from the Kansas line to Denver.

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