DENVER (AP) — Skiers rejoiced and stores pulled snowblowers out of storage as a persistent spring storm delivered another round of wet snow to parts of Wyoming, Colorado and the Dakotas on Wednesday.
Slick conditions and reduced visibility closed big stretches of two interstates in Wyoming and Colorado. The storm delayed flights out of Denver and postponed another Colorado Rockies-New York Mets game.
Three feet of snow has fallen in Colorado’s mountains so far, building the snowpack at a time when, normally, the levels have already peaked for the year.
The weather also has delayed the start of wildfire season in the northern and central mountains and foothills. By this time a year ago, Colorado already had one massive wildfire that killed three people.
But the state still remains in a drought, and the storm has so far been weak or simply bypassed the farms and ranches of southern and eastern Colorado.
The snow that fell along the Front Range captured both sides of the story. It carried different shades of dust likely from parched parts of Colorado, Arizona and Utah, said state climatologist Nolan Doesken. Meanwhile, crews in Rocky Mountain National Park burned brush piles to prevent wildfires in knee-deep snow.
Doesken said the Front Range snowfall means homeowners can put off watering for at least three weeks, but it’s not enough to pull the state out of the drought given how low reservoirs are after two dry years.
“It’s not good enough yet, but it’s good,” Doesken said.
Colorado’s snowpack has risen to 77 percent of the average seasonal peak, and the critical Colorado Basin, which provides water to more than 40 million people in seven western states, has grown to 85 percent of the average peak.
The usual measurements that compare the snow level to the average for a particular day are even higher, but they’re misleading because in a normal year, snow would have already started melting by now, said Mage Hulstrand of the National Resources Conservation Service.
The storm is expected to move into Kansas and Nebraska later Wednesday.
In Wyoming, Melody Berg, an assistant store manager at Lowe’s in Cheyenne, said snow blowers and snow shovels have been selling well.
The store already had put some of the winter implements away on storage shelves to make room for spring and summer season goods on the sales floor.
“We thought the season was kind of over, but we should know better. We live in Wyoming, right?” she said.
Forecasters said the storm could drop as much as 15 inches of snow in western South Dakota by Thursday and lesser but still-significant amounts farther east.
The first round of snow postponed the opening game of the Rockies-Mets series Monday, but the teams took advantage of a break in the precipitation to play a frigid doubleheader Tuesday. One fan watched with a snowman in the next seat.
The teams are scheduled to play again Thursday, when the storm should be gone, but no makeup date had been set for Wednesday’s game.
By Colleen Slevin, AP Writer Associated Press writers Bob Moen in Cheyenne, Wyo., Catherine Tsai in Denver and Blake Nicholson in Bismarck, N.D., contributed to this report (© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)