A freak October blizzard swept through Colorado today, almost isolating Denver and Colorado Springs with up to three feet of snow.
The heaviest snowfall, 36 inches, was recorded at Woodland Park, near Colorado Springs. Coal Creek Canyon and Wheat Ridge, both west of Denver, received 31 and 21 inches.
The storm was blamed for at least one traffic death in Colorado and one in Nevada.
Highway patrolman Lt. Ron Adams said the weather was "as bad as I've ever seen it for this time of year," with the hardest hit area from Colorado Springs north to Denver and Boulder and east to Limon, where 4-foot drifts were reported.
Jim Wiesmueller, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said the storm was "very strong . . . not really that common for this time of year. We get 10-inch snowfalls a couple of times a winter. But it's very unusual to have one in October."
Schools were closed in Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs, where the Air Force Academy shut down for only the second time in 18 years due to weather conditions.
Interstate 70 was closed in both directions out of Denver, and Interstate 25 was closed southward. Many smaller highways in eastern Colorado were impassable.
"The plan of attack today should be to stay at home by the fire, watch your favorite soap operas and keep the coffee pot going," advised the National Weather Service in Colorado Springs.
Forecasters said a new storm brewing in the Rockies could strike on Wednesday.