Nightly News   |  March 23, 2013

17 states under winter storm watch

Despite the official arrival of spring, a major winter storm was expected to dump more snow from Colorado to the Ohio Valley through Sunday. KUSA-TV’s Meagan Fitzgerald reports.

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>>> good evening. it is not a fun time to be a weather forecaster . or groundhog, for that matter. the winter of our discontent is overstaying its welcome, into spring. in many parts of the country, including the 17 states that are right now under a winter storm watch or warning. the spring blast of snow is causing major travel problems in denver tonight. and as the storm tracks eastward along interstate 70 , kansas city , st. louis, indianapolis, even the mountains of west virginia , are some of the places under warnings. we have it all covered tonight starting in johnstown, colorado , where megan fitzgerald from kusa tv joins us with the latest from there. megan , good evening.

>> good evening, lester. it has been a long day for travelers. slick and snow-packed roads caused a delay and a pileup of nearly 50 cars on interstate 25 , which is just behind us here. this interstate was shut down for eight hours while investigators worked to figure out how this all happened.

>> get back, all right?

>> reporter: this was the scene of a massive chain-reaction accident this morning. an oil rig on fire by the side of the interstate. authorities say the pileup involved 30 to 50 cars, and at least four semi trucks.

>> truck driver, i never seen anything like this.

>> it's the worst thing i've ever seen. by far.

>> reporter: the crash happened north of denver along interstate 25 near johnstown, colorado . several people were taken to area hospitals but officials say luckily no one was killed. it was the result of heavy snow falling in colorado today, as much as a foot, surprising forecasters who had predicted 2 to 4 inches. this storm system is moving quickly through the plains, walloping east colorado and northern kansas. snarling miles of traffic, and delaying flights at denver airport by three hours.

>> it is springtime. so it's possible people are not expecting to see winter weather . but you get too many cars on the road, too much snow, wind reducing the visibilities, and that's all a recipe for disaster.

>> reporter: dozens of plows and rescue workers have been on the scene for hours.

>> get things done as quick as you can. and safely as you can.

>> reporter: police say this is an ongoing investigation to try and determine how this happened, and what the chain of events were. but right now the red cross is on scene taking care of those travelers who are now stranded. lester, back to you.

>> all right, megan fitzgerald from our denver station kusa, thanks.