National Guard activated as Winter Storm Selene closes major interstates, Denver airport

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Winter Storm Selene Brings Blizzard Conditions

By Andrew MacFarlane, Weather.com

Winter Storm Selene clobbered areas from Denver to southeastern Wyoming Wednesday morning, dumping more than two feet of snowfall at a very rapid rate. In Colorado, the state's National Guard resources were deployed to assist in rescue missions as every major highway leading out of Denver was closed, making travel nearly impossible Wednesday afternoon.

About 1,000 flights were canceled Wednesday at Denver International Airport before officials decided to close the airport indefinitely due to the severe wintry conditions. The airport announced Pena Boulevard was impassable, giving travelers no way to get to their flights. The outbound lanes of Pena were later cleared, and the airport reopened at 7 p.m.

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Up to 16 inches of snow was recorded in California as the system made its way across the West Coast. In parts of Wyoming and Colorado, more than a foot of snow have already fallen, and more is on the way. As a result, schools have been closed and the heavy, wet snow is leading to widespread power outages.

READ MORE: Winter Storm Selene Forecast | Another Round of Severe Targets the South

Here's the latest from this winter storm.

Colorado

A major travel problem unfolded Wednesday when relentless snowfall covered roadways, and gusty winds brought visibilities down to dangerous levels. Officials were forced to close Interstates 25, 70 and 76 in all directions out of Denver when the snow became too heavy for the nearly 500 plows to keep up.

See photos from the scene in Colorado:

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National Guard activated as Winter Storm Selene closes major interstates, Denver airport
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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"There are many accidents," Colorado State Police Trooper Nate Reid told the Denver Post. "I would never be able to give you a number."

A "very large number of patients" have been admitted into the University of Colorado Hospital's emergency department as a result of snow-related car accidents, said hospital spokesperson Dan Weaver. "That's been the main cause of patient transports to the hospital today."

Counted 4 vehicles in a ditch within a quarter of a mile south of Lakewood on 285. Be safe! #COwx #KDVR

A video posted by Kevin Torres | Channel 2 News (@kevintorresagram) on

Northeast of Colorado Springs, multiple drivers were stranded in the town of Falcon, according to the city's fire department. Colorado's National Guard resources were activated on rescue missions caused by the onslaught of snow, according to the State Emergency Operations Center. The Guard deployed teams to support stranded motorists on Highway 83 near Monument, on I-70 near Bennet, and on I-76 near Fort Morgan.

Over the course of the day, nearly 200,000 customers lost power, Xcel Energy said, but as of late Wednesday night power had been restored to 83 percent of impacted customers.

At Denver International Airport, where hundreds of flights into and out of the city were canceled, a power outage was largely to blame for the early-morning headaches. Xcel Energy was able to restore power at the airport a few hours into the outage, but cancellations skyrocketed.

The airport also lost the ability to pump aircraft and deicing fuel during the outage Wednesday morning, local radio host Steffan Tubbs reported via Twitter.

Denver Public Schools were closed Wednesday as Selene hit eastern Colorado hard with big snowfall rates. In addition to DPS, several other school districts were also closed Wednesday. The Denver Post has a complete list.

A list of emergency operation centers and shelters in the Greater Denver area can be found here.

Wyoming

Selene forced a closure of Interstate 80 Wednesday morning that spanned more than 300 miles from Rock Springs to the Nebraska state line, according to the Associated Press. I-25 from Douglas to the Colorado state line was also closed Wednesday morning -- a stretch of 140 miles. The National Weather Service reported whiteout conditions Wednesday morning in Cheyenne.

"It's pretty much kicking our hineys," Tim McGary of the Wyoming Department of Transportation told the AP. "It's bad enough we can't keep up with it. That's why everything is closed."

The storm also affected campaign stops in the presidential race. Sen. Bernie Sanders canceled appearances in Laramie and Casper on Wednesday, the AP also reported, and former President Bill Clinton canceled a visit to Cheyenne on behalf of his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Wisconsin

Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency as Winter Storm Selene moved into the Badger State, according to SW News.

This storm "may cause dangerous drifting and blowing snow as well as limited visibility on roads and highways, causing treacherous driving conditions," Walker announced. "As a precautionary measure, we want to ensure all state resources are available and ready, if needed. We urge all Wisconsinites to be cautious of the weather conditions and remain safe while outside or driving."

Walker called upon members of the Wisconsin National Guard to active duty to help authorities as needed, according to the AP.

Schools in Outagamie, Winnebago, Waupaca and Calumet counties have already seen delays and closures, according to Post Crescent. A full list can be found on their website.

Nebraska

Several highways in Nebraska have been closed by Selene, including a stretch of more than 100 miles of I-80 from Brule to the Wyoming state line. Many trucks have opted to stop traveling through the state and wait out the winter storm, Becky Buda, a clerk at the Sapp Bros. Travel Center off I-80 in Sidney, told the AP.

A snow alert has been declared for the city of North Platte, 1011Now.com reported.

South Dakota

Some schools were closed Wednesday as the state prepared for Winter Storm Selene, while others delayed opening, the AP reported. In Rapid City, additional snow-removal crews were brought in overnight Wednesday to battle the storm, and Ellsworth Air Force Base permitted non-essential personnel to report late, the AP also said.

Minnesota

Authorities advised residents to stay off roads unless travel was necessary in south-central Minnesota Wednesday afternoon, the AP reported. The storm was expected to arrive in the state at that time, and heavy snow and high winds would make travel very dangerous.

Over 100 flights both departing and arriving into Minneapolis -- Saint Paul International Airport have been canceled, according to FlightAware. Another 100 have been delayed by the harsh weather.

Numerous schools in the Greater Minneapolis area have canceled afternoon and evening activities due to the wintry weather, according to CBS Minnesota. A full list of closures can be found on their website.

Utah

Top snowfall total: 6 inches, near Flaming Gorge Dam

Light snow turned heavy in Salt Lake City Tuesday morning, right around the time of the morning commute. Several minor accidents and slide-offs occurred around the Salt Lake Valley, FOX 13 Salt Lake City reported.

An intrasquad game between the Los Angeles Angels and their Triple-A affiliate, the Salt Lake Bees, was canceled after snow blanketed the city.

The Utah Department of Transportation activated snow plows in order to clear roads of the spring snowfall.

"Already, I think, some of us have our sights set on spring and summer. But, we need to remember to slow down," said UDOT spokesman John Gleason.

California

Top snowfall total: 16 inches, near Twin Bridges

In areas of the Sierra Nevada, strong winds and snowfall made driving conditions difficult, causing a rollover accident west of Kingvale on I-80, according to ABC 10.

Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation, urged drivers to be alert during the wet and snowy conditions in the Sierra.

"Two things, slow down and be alert," David Wood, a spokesperson for Caltrans, told FOX 40. "Don't let anything distract you. It takes a lot longer to stop on snow, and you never know what's around the corner."

During the storm, an NWS storm report clocked a 113-mph wind gust at the White Mountain Summit Research Station.

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