Storm System Brings Parts of the West to a Halt

Ground and air searches continue in Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico, looking for people who might still be stranded in the New Year's blizzard. Throughout the area, high winds have piled up snowdrifts more than 10 feet deep. At least a dozen people have died; thousands may be without power for days.

This was a storm for the record books, according to one National Weather Service forecaster. It blasted the high plains with a paralyzing mix of heavy snow and high winds. Motels became filled with those stranded. Snow-plow drivers became rescuers. And National Guard troops patrolled in trucks with tank-like tracks.

The snow alone was challenging enough for emergency workers in Colorado, where more than 700 people sought refuge in shelters. One hundred were rescued from cars and trucks on highways and country roads.

The wind made travel and rescue even more difficult and dangerous, according to Dick Vnuk at the Colorado Division of Emergency Management.

"I mean, it's 30 inches of snow," Vnuk says, "that wasn't the problem. The problem was the drifting. I mean you're dealing with drifts up to ten, 12, 14 feet."

Winds of 40 miles an hour and more whipped up those drifts. They were deep enough to bury cars and cattle. Monday, Vnuk says, the search continues for people and animals stranded by the storm.

The storm hit the region Thursday, leaving more than 30 inches in parts of Kansas, 18 inches in Oklahoma, 10 inches in Minnesota and two feet in New Mexico. Interstate 40 at Albuquerque was choked with vehicles abandoned in the storm.

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