A major snowstorm blew across Colorado, dumping more than a foot (30 centimeters) of snow in some places and forcing the airport to close, stranding thousands of holiday travelers. Authorities at times shut down major highways in parts of six U.S. states.
Denver International Airport was closed to flights at mid-afternoon Wednesday, and more than 1,000 were canceled through Thursday.
The runways will remain closed until at least Thursday night, spokesman Steve Snyder said. As many as 3,000 passengers were waiting for flights.
As much as 20 inches (50 centimeters) of snow was forecast in Denver, where all nonessential city offices were closed early. Snow was predicted to fall through Thursday morning.
The National Weather Service posted blizzard warnings for most of eastern Colorado and adjoining sections of Nebraska and Kansas.
Colorado Gov. Bill Owens declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard in case stranded motorists needed to be rescued, reports AP.
Authorities closed portions of interstate highways in Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas throughout the day.
Winter storm or blizzard warnings were in effect for much of Nebraska, with up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow expected by Thursday morning. Rain spread across much of the rest of the Plains.
Roads around New Mexico were still snowpacked and icy Wednesday. Numerous schools opened late or remained closed.