DENVER (AP) – A powerful storm that dropped up to 20 inches of snow in parts of Colorado knocked out power Monday to thousands of people, closed an 80-mile stretch of a major highway and trigged rock slides in the foothills.

Authorities said a 60-year-old Denver woman died after an 8-inch-diameter tree limb snapped off and struck her. No other details were available.

Authorities closed the main east-west route across Colorado, Interstate 70, from Denver east to Limon. Seventy miles of U.S. 24 from Limon southwest to Colorado Springs were also closed. A day earlier, the Red Cross opened a shelter for stranded travelers.

The storm cut off power to 25,000 homes and businesses in Denver when power lines snapped and transformers failed, Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Henley said.

“You could hear them popping,” said Tom Hartman, who was shoveling snow outside the Schlessman Family YMCA in Denver when the transformers began to crackle and die.

Power had been restored by Monday to about 2,000 homes and businesses in Breckenridge.

Dozens of schools closed or were opening late, including three in the Denver area that closed because of power failures.

Two children were hospitalized with minor injuries after a school bus slid backward down a steep embankment south of Denver, Douglas County schools spokeswoman Carol Kaness said.

In southwestern Colorado, rain associated with the storm system was believed to have triggered two rock slides in San Miguel County, including one that shut down a lane of Colorado 145 near Telluride. No injuries were reported. Steady rain also caused two rock slides in Boulder Canyon northwest of Denver, forcing the closure of one lane of Colorado 119 and damaging a car. No one was hurt.

The National Weather Service had predicted up to 4 feet of snow in the southern Colorado mountains, but some of the snow melted and the precipitation turned to rain, leaving an accumulation of about a foot.

Snowfall amounts ranged from 20 inches in Breckenridge to 12 inches in Strasburg, about 20 miles east of Denver.

“I’m not going outside this morning,” said Veronica Burke, associate manager of the Village Inn restaurant in Monument, near the 7,400-foot-high summit of Monument Hill between Denver and Colorado Springs.

The wind was blowing so hard, she said, it was hard to tell how much snow had fallen.

El Paso County Search and Rescue was called to help drivers who got stuck on snowy county roads east of Colorado Springs.

“We’ve got people out trying out the four-wheel-drive vehicles, and they’re finding out they don’t work very well,” spokesman Steve Sperry said.

The American Red Cross opened a shelter Sunday for stranded travelers in Silverthorne after multiple accidents closed westbound Interstate 70 between Copper Mountain and Vail Pass for 2½ hours late Sunday. Earlier, several tractor-trailers jackknifed on eastbound I-70 approaching the Eisenhower Tunnel.

A fire broke out near Keystone after the heavy, wet snow helped bring down a power line, but it was quickly put out. Wind and falling tree limbs downed other lines in the mountains, causing sporadic outages, Henley said.

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