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Spring Storm Boosts State’s Snowpack

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Coors Field on Monday (credit: CBS)

Coors Field on Monday (credit: CBS)

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DENVER (AP) — A spring storm is bringing much-needed moisture to parts of Colorado and Wyoming, but winds are raising the wildfire danger to the south.

The second wave of a slow-moving system could bring another foot of snow to parts of Colorado’s mountains Tuesday, on top of up to a foot that fell the day before. Southeastern Wyoming could also get up to a foot by the time the storm moves across Colorado’s northeast plains and into Nebraska and Iowa on Wednesday night.

Cheyenne, Wyo., received 6.9 inches of snow on Monday, breaking the old record of 6 inches set back in 1890.

Colorado’s southwestern corner and the agricultural San Luis Valley along with New Mexico are forecast to get only strong winds, making it easier for wildfires to spread in dried-out vegetation.

The snow has closed some roads and causing some delays at Denver International Airport because planes need to be de-iced. The snow canceled the Colorado Rockies-New York Mets game Monday night and the teams hoped to squeeze in a doubleheader Tuesday afternoon. Light snow and rain is forecast during the day but snow is expected to grow heavier Tuesday night.

April is typically the second-snowiest month for the region and wet spring snows help boost the mountain snowpack that provides most of the area’s water supply. It also helps delay lawn watering in Denver and along the rest of the populated Front Range region, where many water districts have limited watering after two years of drought conditions.

“It doesn’t stick around as long but it gives that soil moisture heading into the drier months,” National Weather Service forecaster Jeff Colton said of spring snow.

But the heavy blanket of snow does squash daffodils and other plants that have started to bloom.

The snowpack in both Colorado and Wyoming is still below average but has risen in the last week to 77 percent of average in both states.

Most of Colorado’s ski areas are already closed for the season, but Vail, Breckenridge and Aspen Highlands announced they would extend their season by another weekend after getting consistent snowfall over the past week. Winter Park, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin also are still open.

The storm system is expected to pick up speed as it moves east into the Great Lakes Friday. It should move off the East Coast Saturday, Colton said.

There’s a potential for more snow in Colorado’s mountains on Friday.

By COLLEEN SLEVIN, Associated Press

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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