DENVER (CBS4) – Heavy snow that moved in on Wednesday afternoon caused a lot of problems on the roads throughout the Denver metro area and dozens of flight cancellations at Denver International Airport.
The Colorado Department of Transportation closed all lanes of Interstate 70 at approximately 8 p.m. from Idaho Springs to C-470 in Jefferson County west of Denver due to multiple accidents.
According to Colorado State Patrol Trooper Nate Reid, there is a series of small crashes involving up to 70 vehicles along that stretch of about four miles of eastbound I-70. One involves a jack-knifed semi that hit some other vehicles. So far there haven’t been any injuries reported. Reid said “they’ve ordered every tow there is” to clear wrecked vehicles and get the road opened.
Reid also reported several other accidents on I-70 throughout the afternoon. One accident was a fatal, single-vehicle crash on eastbound I-70 near Georgetown just before 3 p.m. No other details about the crash have been released.
Another crash involved a semi-truck that rolled over and struck two other vehicles on Vail Pass at approximately 3:40 p.m. Nobody was badly injured in the crash but it was expected to take a while to clear because the semi had spilled 55 gallons of diesel fuel and had to be offloaded.
In downtown Denver traffic was at a standstill on Lincoln Street just after 4 p.m. as visibility was hampered by the heavy snowfall.
There was a jack-knifed bus at 10th and Lincoln that was causing some major backups in the middle of rush hour.
A pedestrian was seriously hurt after being struck by a car at Lincoln and Virginia. The intersection was closed during the investigation.
At 4:45 p.m. CDOT closed both directions of CO-119 in Boulder Canyon from Boulder to Nederland due to multiple accidents. The highway was reopened a few hours later.
Multiple cities along the Front Range are on accident alert, including Arvada, Golden, Longmont, Wheat Ridge, Lone Tree and downtown Denver.
CDOT released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying they were ready for another round of winter weather.
“Luckily, yesterday’s warmer temperatures gave us time to rest, restock solid and liquid deicers and get any necessary repairs done to our plow trucks before the snow hit today and continues for the next several days,” said Mike O’Neill, CDOT Region 1 Deputy Director of Maintenance.
CDOT reminded drivers to “know the conditions, prepare their vehicles with good snow tires and topped up fluids.”
According to CDOT, approximately 106 employees and pieces of snow removal equipment will be working 12-hour shifts around the clock throughout the storm.
LINK: Winter Driving Tips
As of 6:40 p.m. approximately 75 flights had been canceled at DIA. The average delay for incoming flights was about an hour. About 60 percent of the reported cancellations are regional flights on smaller aircraft.
“The airlines are expected to be de-icing throughout this storm, so passengers should expect to spend a little extra time on the aircraft prior to departure. The average deicing time is approximately 16 minutes,” airport officials said in a statement.
Due to wind and snow, the FAA has enacted an aircraft traffic management plan for Denver, meaning aircraft departing other airports for Denver are being held for a specified time. This spaces out arriving aircraft into DIA. The FAA estimates average arrival delays of 59 minutes, which may also affect some departing aircraft tonight. Passengers should check their flight status before heading to the airport.
Snow removal crews have been deployed. DIA expected about two inches of snow for the rest of Wednesday night into Thursday morning. DIA has more than 270 pieces of snow removal equipment and more than 500 trained snow removal personnel. That equipment includes blowers, brooms, blades, plows and chemical trucks.
Travelers should check their flight status before leaving for the airport with their airline or on flydenver.com.