DENVER — A snowstorm that pounded the Sierra Nevada and buried the central Rockies during the weekend delivered a snowy, icy mess across the central part of the nation Monday, closing schools and making highways slick.
More than 100 schools in Nebraska were closed or opened late. Stranded motorists had to find places to stay for the night in some areas of the state after icy, snow-covered pavement prompted shut downs of sections of Interstate 80 for several hours Sunday.
“We were on a total sheet of ice,” Jennifer Priest, manager of a motel in North Platte, Neb., said of her drive to work Sunday that included a slide into a median. Her motel and others in town were jammed.
Snow was up to a foot deep Monday in western Nebraska.
Sections of I-70 in Kansas also were icy and snowpacked Monday and traffic was moving cautiously.
“It’s still snowing and blowing a little, and it’s just a mess,” said Tina Schiltz, an employee at Mitten Truck Stop in Oakley, Kan.
A section of Interstate 25 southwest of Santa Fe, N.M., was shut down at dawn Monday because of an accident on ice, said S.U. Mahesh, state Department of Transportation spokesman. Later in the morning, I-40 was closed just east of Albuquerque because of snow, he said.
The storm continued producing mostly light snow Monday from New Mexico across the central Plains to the Great Lakes.
Since late last week, the weather had been blamed for at least five traffic deaths in Nebraska, three in New Mexico and two in central California.
The system dumped nearly 3 feet of snow on parts of Colorado early Sunday before hitting the heavily populated Front Range with bitter cold, blustery wind and about a half-foot of snow.
Traffic was stop-and-go from the Eisenhower Tunnel back to Denver — a distance of about 75 miles — as thousands of people returned from Thanksgiving holiday. Powder blanketed the field during the Denver Broncos game Sunday night against the Oakland Raiders.
In southwest Colorado, a small jet crashed Sunday at the Montrose airport, killing at least two people. NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol and one of his sons walked out of the wreckage but another son was missing. It was not immediately clear if snow was a factor.
Fifteen inches of snow fell in Wyoming during the weekend and hundreds of traffic accidents were reported.
California’s Sierra Nevada got 18 inches during the weekend, slowing thousands of Thanksgiving weekend travelers crossing the mountain range.
On the east side of the Sierra, a combination of 6 inches of snow and an equipment malfunction delayed or canceled dozens of airline flights at Reno, Nev., stranding hundreds of travelers through the weekend.
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