Spring Snowstorm Rocks Rockies, Menaces Midwest

(CNN) — If there was ever a time to doubt the prognosticating abilities of Punxsutawney Phil, this might be it.

Last month, the legendary Pennsylvania groundhog failed to see his shadow, thereby predicting an early spring. But at this point, people in the Rockies and Midwest would have been happy if it felt like spring when the season officially began — on Wednesday — as winter won’t go quietly.

Much of Colorado was pummeled with snow Saturday, causing travel-related and assorted other headaches.

In the eastern part of the state, white-out conditions prompted authorities to close 154 miles of Interstate 70 from Denver to the Kansas line. And those wishing to fly out of Denver International Airport just had to wait.

About 45 miles north of Denver, Interstate 25 northbound shut down Saturday afternoon after a weather-related incident ensnared 20 to 50 vehicles that either crashed or spun off the roadway, the Colorado State Patrol reports.

Flames engulfed a semi-tanker caught up in the mess, which also affected at least four tractor-trailer trucks.

It’s likely the highway will remain closed through 6 p.m. (8 p.m. ET) — at the least.

The snowstorm will roll over the Great Plains between Interstate Highways 70 and 80 in Nebraska and Kansas, said CNN meteorologist Karen Maginnis.

Spring snowstorms aren’t unusual, but they often get attention.

“I don’t think this will be one for the record books, but it is definitely going to add some interest this weekend and to the work week,” Maginnis said.

Snow is expected in Omaha, Nebraska; Kansas City, Missouri; and Louisville, Kentucky, Maginnis said.

By Monday, some snow could fall in Washington, D.C., Maginnis said.

Meanwhile, a severe thunderstorm watch was in effect Saturday for the deep South as far as northern Florida until 5 p.m. ET, Maginnis said.

As for Phil, a prosecutor in Ohio filed a mock “indictment” this week against the little critter for misrepresentation of early spring.

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