People in Colorado and Wyoming were urged to get home early Wednesday and stay there before snow and wind from a powerful spring storm make travel all but impossible.
The warning came less than a month after a blizzard stranded drivers while paralyzing parts of the two states.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said highway closures were probable when rain turns to snow in the afternoon and wind gusts as high as 65 mph.
About half of the flights at Denver International Airport were scratched ahead of the storm that approached a day after temperatures reached into the 70s and just after firefighters battled wildfires that prompted some evacuations.
Many school districts held classes for only a half-day because of the storm.
Local governments in Denver, Cheyenne and elsewhere announced they would close offices early to give workers time to commute before conditions deteriorated. The Colorado State Patrol encouraged other employers to do the same to cut down on traffic during the storm.
The agency’s post in Golden invoked a character from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in a tweet asking drivers to avoid unnecessary travel to help keep first responders and highway workers safe.
“Folks, even Yukon Cornelius knew when to take shelter in the storm,” it said.
During the March 13 blizzard, state trooper Cpl. Daniel Groves was struck and killed by a car as he helped a driver who had slid off Interstate 76 north of Denver.
In addition, the Colorado National Guard retrieved 75 people stranded in their cars during the storm, along with two dogs.
The Colorado Rockies and Colorado Rapids both postponed their games. However, the Denver Nuggets will still play the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Pepsi Center as they try to wrap up the No. 2 seed for the Western Conference playoffs.
Early snowfall reports Wednesday included around 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) in the Gillette area in northeast Wyoming, where schools were cancelled, and at Evanston in the southwest corner of the state.