- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A potent spring snowstorm threatened to snarl traffic on interstate highways from Colorado to South Dakota, including a stretch of Interstate 80 across southern Wyoming that was the scene of two big weather-related pileups last month.

After a week of soggy weather in the central Rockies, forecasters predicted rain would transition to heavy snow by Mother’s Day. Up to 2 feet was forecast in the mountains of Wyoming and Colorado, and over a foot was possible in the Black Hills.

Six to 12 inches was forecast for high-elevation cities including Cheyenne.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation was monitoring the storm and preparing its plows but not making any plans to close interstates just yet, spokesman Dave Kingham said Friday.

“More often than not, it’s a question of visibility than any amount of snow. Or a combination of poor visibility and ice and poor conditions,” Kingham said of what it takes to close a highway.

The storm could affect travel along I-80 and I-25 in Wyoming, I-70 in Colorado and I-90 in northeast Wyoming and western South Dakota.

Slick conditions and poor visibility factored into two recent pileups on I-80.

On April 20, a fiery chain-reaction wreck 18 miles west of Laramie on I-80 involved more than 60 vehicles and killed two people. The wrecks happened in dense fog and light slush and shut down I-80 for 100 miles in both directions.

The pileup happened four days after one involving about 60 cars and trucks on I-80 about 15 miles west of Cheyenne. Three people were hospitalized from those wrecks in blowing snow.

Forecasters this time predicted a classic upslope storm in which moisture funneled westward from the Great Plains would fall first as rain, then snow, on east-facing slopes.

Some rain will turn to snow at high elevations overnight Friday but most areas will see rain changing to snow Saturday afternoon and evening, said Richard Emanuel, a Weather Service forecaster in Cheyenne.

“Conditions will probably be pretty nasty out there tomorrow night into early Sunday,” Emanuel said Friday.

The storm could bring more than an inch of liquid precipitation to some areas, he said.

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Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver


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