One person died and 30 others were injured in a massive pileup on Interstate 25 as a band of heavy snow moved through south Denver on Saturday, authorities said.
Police say 104 vehicles were involved in crashes along a roughly three-kilometre stretch of highway as a short but intense burst of snow slammed the area. The northbound lanes were closed for several hours, but the interstate has since reopened. The injured were taken to nearby hospitals.
Drivers and passengers who were not hurt were put on a city bus to speak with accident investigators, and some wrecked cars were towed to a nearby high school, the Denver Post reported. Meanwhile, about 100 snowplows and four large tankers with deicing fluid were busy clearing roads throughout Denver, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.
Meteorologists said the storm was part of the same system that has saturated California and is slowly moving across the West en route to the Plains and Mississippi Valley on Sunday.
"We're on the front leading edge of it, so there's some moisture coming up," National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Kalina said. That, combined with a cold front that moved into Colorado on Friday night, made for whiteout conditions and slick roadways across the state.
Highway officials closed the westbound lanes of a section of Interstate 70 west of Denver after treacherous road conditions led to numerous accidents. Traffic is still slow in the reopened lanes.
The transportation department warned that recently fluctuating temperatures in Colorado led to the slick road conditions, and authorities advised motorists to stock their vehicles with water, blankets, windshield wiper fluid, hand warmers and nonperishable food items.