Near-blizzard conditions whipped heavy snow through the Rockies and northern Plains on Wednesday, stranding hundreds of students in their schools overnight in Nebraska.
Teachers and administrators at a high school and middle school in Kearney, Neb., hastily planned a night of food and fun as they rounded up blankets and cots for 300 snowed-in students. Cafeteria staffers were called back to work to fix dinner.
By Wednesday evening in North Dakota, 10 inches of snow had fallen in Grand Forks and Bismarck and 6 inches at Williston, Fargo and Jamestown. Strong north winds were creating wind-chill temperatures of 40 to 70 below zero and reducing visibility to near zero at times.
A 170-mile section of Interstate 80 was closed in Nebraska, stranding at least 130 motorists.
In Wyoming, winds, icy roads and snow caused two chain-reaction accidents involving about 30 cars on Interstate 80. It wasn’t clear how many people were injured or how seriously, said Keith Rounds, a state Transportation Department spokesman.
Heavy snow and near-blizzard conditions also were common throughout parts of eastern Idaho, northern Utah and northern Colorado, and blizzard warnings were posted across parts of Colorado, Wyoming, South and North Dakota and Nebraska.
More than 2 feet of snow had fallen by afternoon in parts of northern Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, with up to a foot in the Salt Lake City area. Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Ski Area reported 14 inches.