First winter storm blankets Rockies, High Plains

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First Winter Storm Hits Colorado

A blizzard warning that saw parts of Kansas and Nebraska and much of northeastern Colorado — including Denver — bunkered in Monday night will continue well into Tuesday, forecasters warned.

Heavy snow was at the heart of the first severe winter storm of the season, spreading through the Rockies and into the High Plains. As it continues on its way east, it is expected to cause flooding later in the week along the Gulf Coast as severe thunderstorms move across the South.

The leading eastern edge spun off snow and harsh winds Monday as far east as Nebraska and Kansas, where scattered tornadoes were even reported. Flagstaff, Arizona, was buried under 11 inches of snow.

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"I woke up at 5 o'clock to rain. By 6 o'clock, it was snowing, and by 6:30 it was sticking on the parking lot when the school bus pulled in," Phil Mack, owner of Mount Lemmon's General Store in Summerhaven, Arizona, told NBC station KVOA of Tucson.

Metropolitan Denver and its 650,000 people were ground zero.

"Well into the day and evening on Tuesday, we'll have snowfall across eastern Colorado and western Kansas, as well as Nebraska," said Danielle Banks, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel. "Some spots could pick up more than two feet."

See photos from this year's snowy season in Colorado:

18 PHOTOS
Snowy season in Colorado
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First winter storm blankets Rockies, High Plains
Salvador Gonzalez, left, and his 11-year-old son, Julio, build a snowman near their home as a storm, which is packing high winds and snow, blankets the plains Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. The storm has closed much of Interstate 70, Colorado's main east-west highway, because of blizzard conditions on the Eastern Plains as well as in northwest Kansas. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
The Flatirons mountain formation lies dusted white after a night of light snowfall, in Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. The brunt of a winter storm sweeping across the Rockies has been seen mostly in the south and east of Colorado, with much of Colorado's main east-west highway closed because of blizzard conditions on the state's Eastern Plains. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
A gate with a road closed sign blocks entrance to an on ramp to Interstate 70 as a winter storm packing high winds and snow blankets the plains Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. The storm has closed much of Interstate 70, Colorado's main east-west highway, because of blizzard conditions on the Eastern Plains as well as in northwest Kansas. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A tractor-trailer and sports utility vehicle sit stranded in a snowbank along Interstate 70 as a winter storm packing high winds and snow blankets the plains Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. The storm has closed much of Interstate 70, Colorado's main east-west highway, because of blizzard conditions on the Eastern Plains as well as in northwest Kansas. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A man walks his dog after a night of fresh snowfall, in Boulder, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015. The brunt of a winter storm sweeping across the Rockies has been seen mostly in the south and east of Colorado, with much of Colorado's main east-west highway closed because of blizzard conditions on the state's Eastern Plains. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
A tow truck, right, pulls up to clear a tractor-trailer and sports utility vehicle stuck in snow on an off ramp off Interstate 70 as a winter storm packing high winds and snow blankets the plains Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2015, in Aurora, Colo. The storm has closed much of Interstate 70, Colorado's main east-west highway, because of blizzard conditions on the Eastern Plains as well as in northwest Kansas. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A woman walks her dog in fresh snow at Chautauqua Park, in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. An overnight storm dropped more snow in the mountains of Colorado, but left only a few inches in the Denver area. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Brittany Tappen stands next to her vehicle, one of several that were stranded by ice and snow on the northbound off ramp from I-25 to Baptist Road during the morning commute north of Colorado Springs, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. The storm system that dropped a foot of snow in the Rockies was making travel hazardous as it headed east on Wednesday, menacing the Plains with heavy snow and threatening turbulent weather, even tornadoes, in parts of the Midwest. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP) 
Spencer Tappen runs across Baptist Road near I-25 to help his wife move her car off the ice covered off-ramp Wednesday, Nov.11, 2015, north of Colorado Springs, Colo. The storm system that dropped a foot of snow in the Rockies was making travel hazardous as it headed east on Wednesday, menacing the Plains with heavy snow and threatening turbulent weather, even tornadoes, in parts of the Midwest. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP)
A woman runs in fresh snow at Chautauqua Park, in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. An overnight winter storm dropped more snow in the mountains of Colorado, but left only a few inches in the Denver area. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 11: A blanket of white snow covers Fort Logan National Cemetery during a Veteran's Day snow storm the moved into the area overnight, November, 11, 2015. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
After a night of fresh snowfall, a coyote walks inside Green Mountain Memorial Cemetery, in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. An overnight winter storm dropped more snow in the mountains of Colorado, but left only a few inches in the Denver area. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Pedestrians cross Woodmen Road at I-25 Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, as snow and high winds from a winter storm continue to cause problems for the morning commute in Colorado Springs, Colo. The storm system that dropped a foot of snow in the Rockies was making travel hazardous as it headed east on Wednesday, menacing the Plains with heavy snow and threatening turbulent weather, even tornadoes, in parts of the Midwest. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP)
Curtis Hansen, left, and Jeff Malley push a motorist up the icy northbound off-ramp from I-25 to Baptist Road Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, north of Colorado Springs, Colo. The storm system that dropped a foot of snow in the Rockies was making travel hazardous as it headed east on Wednesday, menacing the Plains with heavy snow and threatening turbulent weather, even tornadoes, in parts of the Midwest. (Mark Reis/The Gazette via AP) 
LAKEWOOD, CO - NOVEMBER 11: Brandon Nelli, a student at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, shovels snow during a Veteran's Day snow storm the moved into the area overnight, November, 11, 2015. Lakewood got almost 3 inches in some areas form the storm. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
After a night of fresh snowfall, a coyote sits under a tree by gravestones inside Green Mountain Memorial Cemetery, in Boulder, Colo., Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. An overnight storm dropped more snow in the mountains of Colorado, but left only a few inches in the Denver area. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
Sun shines on a fire-scarred hillside, and on the glaciers dotting the Indian Peaks Wilderness, near Gold Hill, Colo., Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015. The Front Range's first big snow will begin on Tuesday evening, according to the National Weather Service. The storm is expected to drop four to five inches on the Denver metro area, up to 12 inches on the mountains and bring blizzard conditions on the Eastern Plains. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
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As much as 12 inches of new snow was expected by Tuesday morning in Denver and two other major population centers, Vail and Colorado Springs, the National Weather Service said. The town of Limon, in Lincoln County, could get 18 inches, it said.

Authorities called for residents to avoid all travel in the warning area through Tuesday — including major roads like interstates 25, 70, 76 and 80 in Colorado, southern Wyoming, western Nebraska and northwest Kansas.

Denver International Airport canceled 218 arrivals and departures Monday, with 160 more delayed. The airport went ahead and canceled 126 of Tuesday's arrivals and departures ahead of time.

The storm was born in the Gulf of Alaska, where temperatures dropped as low as 24 below zero Monday morning the small community of Bettles — unseasonably cold for mid-November even by Alaska standards.

RELATED: Take a look back at some of last winter's snowiest storms:

55 PHOTOS
Northeast snowstorm - snow - storm - winter weather
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First winter storm blankets Rockies, High Plains
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 01: A man walks down a snow-covered street on February 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen inches or more of snow is expected to fall on the city before Monday morning. The snow has caused power outages and forced about 2,000 flight cancelations at the city's airports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 01: Passengers walk through snow to catch an L train on February 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen inches or more of snow is expected to fall on the city before Monday morning. The snow has caused power outages and forced about 2,000 flight cancelations at the city's airports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Cars are covered by snow in general parking lot at O'Hare International Airport on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Chicago. A slow-moving winter storm blanketed a large swath of the Plains and Midwest in snow Sunday, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights, making roads treacherous and forcing some people to rethink their plans to attend Super Bowl parties. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: A man walks through Humboldt Park on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Anna Vincelli, 45, photographs a two-story snowman built by her neighbor in Irondequoit, N.Y. The region has had 84.5 inches of snow so far this winter, 11 inches above normal, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
William Green, 25, spray paints flowers onto a snow bank in the parking lot of Genrich’s Garden Center where he works in Irondequoit, New York. This has been one of the coldest Februarys on record in the region with frigid temperatures and more snowfall forecasted for the coming week, according to the National Weather Service. (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey)
People walk through a snow storm outside the Wells Fargo Center after an NHL hockey game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
The Broadway Bridge near is the background for snow in the Marble Hill neighborhood of the Bronx borough of New York Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 21: A woman with a red umbrella walks on a snow covered pavement during snowfall as Washington is affected by the cold weather called 'Siberian Express' on February 21, 2015. (Photo by Erkan Avci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
A woman jogs in the snow outside the White House in Washington, DC, on February 21, 2015. Some 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 cm) of snow are expected in the US capital. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
People clear snow from their car during a winter storm outside the Wells Fargo Center after an NHL hockey game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Nashville Predators, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
People walk in the snow past the White House in Washington, DC, on February 21, 2015. Some 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 cm) of snow are expected in the US capital. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
A man jogs in the snow outside the White House in Washington, DC, on February 21, 2015. Some 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 cm) of snow are expected in the US capital. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Snow is cleared on the North side of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. The National Weather Service is calling for 3 to 6 inches of snow and then a trace to a small amount of ice in the area. The cold ground is allowing snow to stick faster, making it difficult for road crews to keep up. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Ice covers 94 percent of Lake Erie on February 19th, 2015. 
CAMBRIDGE, MA - JANUARY 27: Snow covers a car on January 27, 2015 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Boston, and much of the Northeast, is being hit with heavy snow from Winter Storm Juno. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: A plaw moves down a snow covered street on February 2, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Another winter storm has brought inclement weather to much of the Northeast, canceling schools and hundreds of flights throughout the area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Airplanes stand in the snow at O'Hare International Airport on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Chicago. A slow-moving winter storm blanketed a large swath of the Plains and Midwest in snow Sunday, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights, making roads treacherous and forcing some people to rethink their plans to attend Super Bowl parties. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
A woman shields her face from the wind-driven snow while making her through a winter storm in downtown Portland, Maine, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
A driver cleans snow off school buses in Derry, N.H., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Southern New Hampshire, which was hit with over two feet of snow last week, is expected to receive as much as another foot and a half in a winter storm that stretches from Michigan to Maine. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
NEW YORK NY - FEBRUARY 02: Michael Musto rides his bike through the snow in Soho on February 02, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Cars drive at slow speed during a snow storm in Manhattan, New York City on February 02, 2014. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Cars drive at slow speed during a snow storm in Manhattan, New York City on February 02, 2014. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Toby Hirshman holds onto Macy as Wally runs in the fresh snow, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. A winter snow storm has dumped at least a foot of snow in parts of northern Ohio and prompted driving bans and hundreds of school and business closings. Seven counties in northwest Ohio were under Level 3 snow emergencies Monday, closing roadways to non-emergency vehicles. Another six counties in north central and northeast Ohio were also under less severe snow emergencies. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: A man rides a bicycle on a snowy and icy Manhattan street on February 2, 2015 in New York City. Another winter storm has brought inclement weather to much of the Northeast, canceling schools and hundreds of flights throughout the area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: Pedestrians navigate the snow, ice and puddles along a Manhattan street on February 2, 2015 in New York City. Another winter storm has brought inclement weather to much of the Northeast, canceling schools and hundreds of flights throughout the area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: A teen looks out of a Brooklyn subway window during a storm bringing a wintery mix of snow and ice to New York City on February 2, 2015 in New York City. Another winter storm has brought inclement weather to much of the Northeast, canceling schools and hundreds of flights throughout the New York metro area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: People walk during a snow storm in Manhattan, New York City on February 02, 2014. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: People walk during a snow storm in Manhattan, New York City on February 02, 2014. (Photo by Cem Ozdel/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Airplanes stand in the snow at O'Hare International Airport on Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Chicago. A slow-moving winter storm blanketed a large swath of the Plains and Midwest in snow Sunday, forcing the cancellation of more than 1,500 flights, making roads treacherous and forcing some people to rethink their plans to attend Super Bowl parties. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
A plow clears snow on I-295 during a winter storm Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Yarmouth, Maine. Heavy snow is pummeling much of Maine as a new round of winter weather immobilizes parts of the state for another day. Monday's storm is expected to drop more than 14 additional inches on the Downeast part of the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Drivers on I-295 contend with near-whiteout conditions while driving in a snow storm Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Yarmouth, Maine. Heavy snow is pummeling much of Maine as a new round of winter weather immobilizes parts of the state for another day. Monday's storm is expected to drop more than 14 additional inches on the Downeast part of the state. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Traffic is backed up from a vehicle off Interstate 94 in Harper Woods, Mich., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. A winter storm has buried Michigan's Lower Peninsula in snow, giving the Detroit area its biggest snowfall in four decades. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Richard King snowshoes down Adams Pond Road in East Derry, N.H., Monday, Feb. 2, 2015. Southern New Hampshire, which was hit with over two feet of snow last week, is expected to receive as much as another foot and a half in a winter storm that stretches from Michigan to Maine. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Krystal Koban removes snow from around her car during a winter storm, Monday, Feb. 2, 2015, in Henniker, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Marcus Neris digs his car out of the snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Marcus Neris digs his car out of the snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: A residents clears snow from a car on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Brittany OBerien (L) and Jessica Moser (R) dig their car out from the snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city yesterday morning and did not stop until this morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Residents dig their cars out from the the snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Residents try to free a stranded car after it became stuck in the snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Brittany OBerien (L) and Jessica Moser (R) dig their car out of snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city yesterday morning and did not stop until this morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Residents try to free a stranded car after it became stuck in snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Cars are burined in snow along a residential street on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: A man clears snow from the sidewalk in front of an aprtment building on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: Residents dig their cars out from the snow on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 02: A dog plays in the snow in Humboldt Park on February 2, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Snow began falling in the city Sunday morning and did not stop until early Monday morning, leaving behind 18 inches. It was the fifth largest snowfall in the city's history. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 01: Aryn Sothbarr clears snow from the sidewalk outside her home on February 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen inches or more of snow is expected to fall on the city before Monday morning. The snow has caused power outages and forced about 2,000 flight cancelations at the city's airports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 01: A man digs out his car along a snow-covered street on February 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen inches or more of snow is expected to fall on the city before Monday morning. The snow has caused power outages and forced about 2,000 flight cancelations at the city's airports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 01: A cyclist takes cover from the snow on February 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen inches or more of snow is expected to fall on the city before Monday morning. The snow has caused power outages and forced about 2,000 flight cancelations at the city's airports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 01: Pedestrian and motorists navigate a snow-covered street on February 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen inches or more of snow is expected to fall on the city before Monday morning. The snow has caused power outages and forced about 2,000 flight cancelations at the city's airports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 01: Drew Maurer clears snow from the sidewalk outside his home on February 1, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. Fifteen inches or more of snow is expected to fall on the city before Monday morning. The snow has caused power outages and forced about 2,000 flight cancelations at the city's airports. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Snow covers trees at O'Hare International Airport, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Chicago. The first major winter storm of the year is bearing down on the Chicago region, bringing with it blizzard conditions of heavy snow and strong winds. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
O'Hare International Airport crews work on a runway at the airport, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2015, in Chicago. The first major winter storm of the year is bearing down on the Chicago region, bringing with it blizzard conditions of heavy snow and strong winds. More than 1,100 flights have been canceled at Chicago's airports and snow-covered roads are making travel treacherous. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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