02/23/2012 08:56 am ET Updated Feb 23, 2012

High Winds, Winter Weather Delay Flights In Denver

DENVER -- Strong gusts Wednesday delayed flights arriving in Denver for part of the day, downed power lines and trees, and fueled two wildland fires in Boulder County.

Xcel Energy Inc. reported about 33,000 customers mostly in the west Denver area lost power, and it could be Friday or possibly the weekend before all power is restored.

Colorado Springs also was dealing with downed trees and power lines. Colorado Springs Utilities said about 1,100 customers lost power Wednesday night.

For part of Wednesday day, flights arriving at Denver International Airport could only approach from the west as winds gusted up to 40 mph. That delayed arrivals an average of 1 1/2 hours before the wind shifted, allowing the airport to use all of its runways for takeoffs and landings.

A gust of 88 mph was recorded near Boulder, where crews were repairing downed power poles and lines, and a tree fell on a parked car. Two Boulder County fires prompted warnings to residents. Both fires were contained by Wednesday night, but residents near one of the fires east of Lyons were told it could be hours before crews determined it was safe for them to go home.

The warm winds drove temperatures into the 60s around Colorado Springs, but in the northern mountains, the National Weather Service predicted up to 30 inches of snow before the storm ends Thursday.

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for much of the Denver metro area until 8 a.m. Thursday morning. Strong winds combined with heavy snow will create "near blizzard conditions" in the mountains early this morning.

9News reports that high winds reached 80 to 100 miles per hour overnight. Areas like Lyons had 93 mph winds recorded, southwest Boulder had winds that hit 88 mph, Fort Collins reached 64 mph and Golden winds hit 73 mph.

The snow arrived quickly and fell rapidly in the middle of the night so snowplows were not able to keep the snow from piling up on highways, Fox31 reports.

As of Thursday morning eastbound I-70 is closed at the Eisenhower tunnel (milemarkers 180-213) and westbound I-70 west of C-470 (milemarker 259) was also closed. For more detailed and current road closure information, visit

The snowstorm is also causing school closures and delays in many Denver metro school districts, according to 7News. Click here to view the full list of school closures and delays from 7News.