Risky winter storm batters western US

Denver Colorado. More than 1800 flights into and out of Denver have been canceled this weekend as a winter storm is expected to bring

A unsafe winter storm pummeled parts of the U.S. Rockies and western Plains with heavy snow on Sunday, shutting down Denver's busy airport and forcing the closure of major highways.

It appears that Denver could see 18-24 inches of snow.

"I urge you to stay home if it's going to snow hard in your area, so you don't need them to rescue you", Polis said.

Denver International Airport's fleet of snow-removal vehicles prepared early, so they could take on the snow as soon as it arrived.

"The good news is that snow in Denver is not unusual, maybe this much is, but we plan all year for big storms", The Denver International Airport Spokesperson, Emily Williams, said. Interstate 70 - a major corridor for skiers to get from Denver through the Rocky Mountains - can be notorious for treacherous travel in snow. Colorado State Patrol announced a westbound closure at C-470 mile post 260, with all traffic being diverted east on Colorado 470.

Interstate Highway 80 was closed in Wyoming and Nebraska, where 30 centimeters (one foot) of snow fell just north of Kimball, Nebraska.

A major storm is targeting the central USA this weekend, with near blizzard conditions forecast across the Rockies and High Plains.

Midday Sunday, the snowstorm was raging, with winter storm warnings active in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins in Colorado, and blizzard warnings in Cheyenne and Laramie in Wyoming.

Travel has proved challenging across Colorado and Wyoming throughout the storm.

"Slow to ramp up Saturday, storm makes itself known on Sunday", the state Transportation Department tweeted Sunday afternoon.

In addition to the snow and blizzard-like conditions, isolated severe storms and heavy rains will threaten parts of Kansas into the Mid and Lower Mississippi Valley. More than 57,000 customers were without power in Colorado, according to an outage tracker maintained by utility Xcel Energy.

The Weather Service said 1-2 feet of snow are expected to fall in the Uintahs through Sunday.