A winter storm slammed some parts of the Front Range and just grazed others as it moved through the area early Tuesday.
It's expected to wind down through the day. Reported totals include more than 13 inches in the foothills west of Denver and 11 inches in Boulder and Fort Collins. Denver’s official accumulation was only around 6 inches – but Denverites will see more than that in some neighborhoods.
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) February 2, 2016
The snow was enough to make travel dangerous in the area and close several major school districts -- including Denver Public Schools. Denver International Airport is open, but officials recommend checking your flight's status before leaving for the airport. About 125 flights have been canceled so far.
Meteorologist Kari Bowen with the National Weather Service in Boulder said chilly temperatures will stick around after the storm moves east.
"You’re still going to have cloudy skies throughout the day and it will be cold. So the snow will taper off, but for the rest of the day we're not looking at much sunshine poking through," Bowen said.
In a sign of the severity of the snow storm in Denver, the city is breaking out its fleet of light snow plows to clear side streets. That happens when there’s at least a foot of snow and a forecast of prolonged freezing temperatures.
As many as 96 smaller snow plows will move through Denver neighborhoods Tuesday, sometimes in a narrow path between rows of snow-covered parked cars.
"They’ll take a swipe down the center of each street. So just one pass down the center and that’s how they’re able to get through on those tighter streets,” said Nancy Kuhn of the city’s public works department. "It’s an organized program and it just takes time, you know. It can take, depending on how much snow there is, it can take a 12-hour shift just to get through all the side streets.”
Highs in the city will stay in the 20s today and tomorrow, then get into the 30s for Thursday.
The plows will cover some 1,300 miles, one block at a time.
The storm hit the mountains harder, creating dangerous avalanche conditions in some areas. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center has issued an avalanche warning for the central and southern mountains. Forecasters put snow totals in the central mountains at 10 to 20 inches with close to 3 feet in parts of the southwestern mountains.
The ongoing winter storm is dropping all this new snow onto a weak snowpack, making natural and human-triggered avalanches likely. Backcountry travel is not recommended, and backcountry climbers, hikers and skiers should stay off of and out from beneath steep slopes.