A dog walker crosses the road, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Salt Lake City, after a winter storm dropped up to 11 inches of snow in parts of the valley. The storm is expected to continue through the day and public safety officials are encouraging people to stay off the roads. (Steve Griffin/The Deseret News via AP)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A major storm that dumped snow throughout the Rockies region overnight prompted a rare decision to close Salt Lake City’s public schools on Monday, caused extensive flight delays and traffic accidents and shut down stretches of highways in Utah and Wyoming .
Some 16 inches (40 centimeters) deep accumulated in some parts of the greater Salt Lake City area, with more forecast to fall throughout the day.
Many Utah school districts took the rare step of canceling classes and it was the second snow day for the Salt Lake City School District in nearly 20 years. Colleges, courts and government offices delay opening.
Flights at Salt Lake City International Airport were delayed for 60 to 90 minutes. The Utah Highway Patrol said it responded to 163 crashes throughout the state.
The snow closed long stretches of Interstates 80 and 25 and other roads across central Wyoming, where up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow was forecast at lower elevations.
The National Weather Service posted winter weather warnings for Wyoming including a blizzard warning for a stretch of Interstate 80 that could experience both heavy snow and wind gusts up to 55 mph (88 kilometers per hour).
The storm also shut down some Wyoming schools, a community college and the local airport in the central city of Casper.
In Colorado, the storm brought freezing drizzle and light snow to the populated Front Range region Monday morning, a day after residents enjoyed temperatures in the 70s.
The precipitation was expected to switch to all snow later in the day and continue through Tuesday along the Front Range and in Colorado’s northern mountains.
The storm is expected to move into the south-central U.S. and the eastern part of the country later this week, the National Weather Service said.
Meanwhile, in Idaho the snowstorm forced the closure of dozens of schools across Eastern Idaho and prompted transportation officials to shut down part of Interstate 84 on Monday.
The Idaho Transportation Department closed Interstate 84 between Interstate 86 and the Utah border Monday morning, and the National Weather Service issued alerts warning motorists that conditions on Interstate 15 and Highway 20 north of Idaho Falls were very dangerous.
The storm began dropping snow on Spencer and Island Park Sunday morning, before spreading across eastern Idaho. The National Weather Service said the storm would likely continue dumping snow on the region through Monday night.
Several school districts in the region cancelled classes on Monday, including schools in Pocatello, Idaho Falls, American Falls, Preston and Sugar-Salem.
Another winter storm is expected in the area on Wednesday.
Associated Press writers Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.