Denver airport to reopen after blizzard prompted shutdown

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Denver Went From 70 Degrees To Blizzard Weather In Hours

March 23 (Reuters) - Denver International Airport was set to reopen on Wednesday night after a blizzard triggered its first shutdown due to severe weather in a decade, airport officials said.

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The storm, which hit Denver early on Wednesday, prompted some 1,350 flight cancellations, briefly knocked out power and stranded travelers. It also caused ripple effects across the country as planes awaited clearance to depart for snowbound Denver.

"We've got blowing snow out there, wet snow on the ground, icy conditions, low visibility, so we're fighting all those things," Denver airport spokesman Heath Montgomery said.

Montgomery said it marked the first time the airport had been forced to shut down due to heavy weather since 2006, when Denver was blanketed with several feet of snow.

See images of the chilling blizzard:

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Denver airport to reopen after blizzard prompted shutdown
DENVER, CO - March 23: Airline passengers brave blowing snow during a blizzard at Denver International Airport March 23, 2016. Hundreds of flights were canceled. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - March 23: Airline passengers check the monitors only to see hundreds of canceled flights due to the blizzard at Denver International Airport March 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - March 23: A woman scrapes off her windshield during a blizzard at Denver International Airport March 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - MARCH 23: Bus computers shelter behind the bus stop along Colfax Ave. in Lakewood as snow continues to fall, March 23, 2016. The Denver area is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. as a heavy band of snow is expected to combine with gusty winds up to 39 mph. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - MARCH 23: A man try to get his shopping cart to his car as snow continues to fall in Lakewood, March 23, 2016. The Denver area is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. as a heavy band of snow is expected to combine with gusty winds up to 39 mph. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - MARCH 23: Luis Valdez clears snow from the walkways outside Westwood Inn Restaurant in Lakewood as snow continues to fall, March 23, 2016. The Denver area is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. as a heavy band of snow is expected to combine with gusty winds up to 39 mph. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: Stephanie Lugo (left) and Jule Coppa (right) speak with Thomas Ricketts as they volunteer with Christ in the City in Lincoln Park. The missionary group gathers at the park every Wednesday to feed and build community with the city's homeless population. Denver received more than a 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: Cori Echevarria walks down 13th on Capitol Hill. Denver received more than a 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - MARCH 23: Jennifer Severs navigates slush and large downed branches as she walks along 9th street with her dog Buddy on March 23, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado. Heavy wet snow left many without power and broke branches from big trees. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
BOULDER, CO - MARCH 23: Liza Greifinger talks with a friend on the phone and admires the amount of snow that has fallen on March 23, 2016 in Boulder, Colorado. Heavy wet snow left many without power and broke branches from big trees. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - March 23: An airline passenger makes their way to the Westin Hotel at the Denver International Airport in bitter winds and heavy snow March 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - March 23: Airline passengers and a pilot make their way to the Westin Hotel at the Denver International Airport in bitter winds and heavy snow March 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - March 23: Snowed in vehicles on top of the west side parking garage at Denver International Airport March 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - March 23: Folks head over to the Westin Hotel at the Denver International Airport in bitter winds and heavy snow during a blizzard March 23, 2016. (Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MARCH 23: Roads in Highlands Ranch were slushy after an overnight blizzard dumped snow March 23, 2016 in Highlands Ranch. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MARCH 23: An overnight blizzard dumps snow weighing down the trees and covering this face on the tree in the Indigo Hills subdivision March 23, 2016 in Highlands Ranch. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MARCH 23: An overnight blizzard dumps snow covering the swings in the Indigo Hills subdivision March 23, 2016 in Highlands Ranch. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MARCH 23: An overnight blizzard dumps snow burying the fire hydrant in the Indigo Hills subdivision March 23, 2016 in Highlands Ranch. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MARCH 23: An overnight blizzard dumps snow weighing down the trees in the Indigo Hills subdivision March 23, 2016 in Highlands Ranch. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO - MARCH 23: An overnight blizzard dumps snow weighing down the trees and covering signs in the Indigo Hills subdivision March 23, 2016 in Highlands Ranch. (Photo By John Leyba/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: Miranda Klein walks from the Denver Art Museum to her Home down 14th as snow falls. Denver received more than a 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: A man walks in front of the Capitol Building. Denver received more than a 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: Joelle Pierre walks down 14th as she waits for a bus to take her home on Capitol Hill. Denver received more than a 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: Matt Campagnoli rides a Burton powder surfer in front of the Colorado State Capitol. Denver received more than a 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 23: Robert and Courtney Butker play with their dog, Rocky, on Capitol Hill. Denver received more than a 10 inches of snow on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - MARCH 23: A home is covered in snow during a spring storm in Lakewood, March 23, 2016. The Denver area is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. as a heavy band of snow is expected to combine with gusty winds up to 39 mph. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - MARCH 23: A willow tree is seen through falling snow in Lakewood, March 23, 2016. The Denver area is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. as a heavy band of snow is expected to combine with gusty winds up to 39 mph. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
NEDERLAND, CO - MARCH 23: Rural mailboxes are covered in snow on March 23, 2016 in Nederland, Colorado. Over 14 inches of snow fell in the area overnight and into the day. The slow moving storm caught people by surprise with the amount of snow it dumped in a short amount of time. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LAKEWOOD, CO - MARCH 23: Brian Veltman try to save his trees and shrubs from breaking in heavy snow outside his home Lakewood, March 23, 2016. The Denver area is under a blizzard warning until 6 p.m. as a heavy band of snow is expected to combine with gusty winds up to 39 mph. (Photo by RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
ARVADA, CO - MARCH 23: Cows huddle together along State Hwy 72 trying to block the steady blowing snow thats blanketing the area March 23, 2016 in Arvada, CO. (Photo By Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Pedestrians struggle to climb the hill south of the State Capitol as a spring storm packing high winds and wet, heavy snow blanketed Denver Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The wet, heavy snow and strong winds have crippled travel in north central Colorado, shutting down some highways and schools and even Denver's airport. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
A bicycle is encased in wet, heavy snow as a spring storm blankets downtown Denver early Wednesday, March 23, 2016. The wet, heavy snow and strong winds have crippled travel in north central Colorado, shutting down some highways and schools and canceling flights at Denver's airport. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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The airport said it planned to reopen and resume flight operations at 7 p.m.

The closure came one day after a suspicious package was found at the airport's main terminal, prompting a brief evacuation amid heightened security in response to deadly suicide bombings in Brussels.

A main roadway to the airport was impassable for hours, stranding passengers in terminals.

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A power outage around 5:20 a.m. MDT shut down many of the airport's systems for about an hour, Montgomery said, preventing crews from fueling and de-icing aircraft.

A total of 700 departing and 646 arriving flights had been canceled by about 6:15 p.m. MDT (1900 GMT), according to flight tracking website FlightAware.com.

Blowing and drifting snow prompted the closure of Interstate 70 just east of Denver to the Kansas state line, the Colorado Department of Transportation said.

Stretches of Interstate 25, the main north-south highway through the state's urban corridor, were also shut down from Colorado Springs to the Wyoming border due to the weather and multiple accidents.

"When tow trucks and fire trucks are getting stuck it's bad," the Colorado State Patrol said on Twitter.

Separately, 118,000 customers in the Denver metropolitan area were without electricity due to damaged power lines, fallen trees and high winds, said Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz.

The Denver area was expected to see as many as 12 inches (30 cm) of snow on Wednesday, with the storm moving across northern Colorado, the National Weather Service said.

The weather system was expected to move to the upper Midwest as it heads toward New England, the weather service said. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency as a precautionary measure, his office said.

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