After a bout of rapid intensification, many locations saw air pressures rivaling those of a Category 2 hurricane.
Only essential personnel within state offices in those counties are being asked to report to their work stations. Daniel Groves, a Colorado State Patrol officer who was hit and killed by a vehicle as he helped another driver who had slid off Interstate 76 near Denver. Groves, on the job since 2007, was declared dead at a hospital. No charges had been filed. Over 500 motorists are reportedly stranded in El Paso County alone.
"CDOT crews are doing everything they can, but the winds are high and the snow is falling at incredible rates".
About 50 National Guard soldiers and airmen used specialized vehicles with tank-like treads to rescue 75 people stranded in their cars during the storm, along with two dogs, according to spokeswoman Elena O'Bryan. "We are in full "saving lives" mode", said county spokesperson Ryan Parsell.
"It's the right thing to do", acting Lt. Matt Searcy said as they got the group's auto unstuck.
Power outages were also an issue, Hanson said.
Roughly 500,000 people have lost power in Colorado and Texas. No decision was made on further state-office closures.
With the lack of historical data, it's hard to say how big a bomb cyclone usually is, Bowen said, but this one was a "pretty decent-sized mid-latitude cyclone". "This was a very widespread event". Xcel will seek assistance from other utilities to provide power to its customers as it estimated to fix the power lines by late Thursday.
In New Mexico, heavy winds knocked train cars off the tracks and a funnel cloud was spotted. No injuries were reported from the incident.
The massive storm was walloping the Rockies. This is a serious blizzard! Arrivals and departures that were canceled include flights from and to Florida, Arizona and Texas.
Late Wednesday, about 111,000 Denver-area residents were without power, down from 246,000 in the afternoon.
Coupled with forecasts for winds of hip to 65 miles per hour, the weather service said the storm would create blizzard conditions throughout the region.
"70 million people will potentially be affected by this storm system across the Plains states, bringing blizzard conditions, potential tornadoes and flash flooding", Dean said Wednesday on "FOX & friends".
Parts of Kentucky and IN have been under tornado warnings Thursday - and one touched down IN Union County, Ky., where a motorist recorded video of the twister on his cellphone. Heavy rain caused flooding in eastern parts of both states and in Iowa. An airport spokesman said 1,339 flights had been canceled as of mid-afternoon.
All six runways at Denver International Airport were shuttered including the main road into the airport due to drifting, blowing snow.
Denver itself is expected to get snow accumulations of about 5 to 8 inches on Wednesday.
Interstate 70 was closed east of Denver to the Kansas state line and sections of Interstate 25 were also shut down, according to Colorado Department of Transportation.
Barometric pressures continued to fall as the storm system rapidly "deepened" Tuesday night.
Forecasters said the winds could pile up snow into deep drifts.
Because snowfall totals of a foot or more are possible in the region, the weather service said the danger of roof collapses will be high, particularly for weaker structures, given the amount of snow already on roofs.