Kyle Rivera, right,  and his crew, Pedro Dena, at left and David Rivera, middle,  shovel sidewalks along Broadway in downtown Boulder today December 19th,
Kyle Rivera, right, and his crew, Pedro Dena, at left and David Rivera, middle, shovel sidewalks along Broadway in downtown Boulder today December 19th, 2012 as a winter storm brought much needed snow to the metro area. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

A winter storm that blanketed the mountains in fresh snow is slowly spreading east Wednesday and the Eastern Plains is being pounded with wind and snow.

Interstate 70 has been shut down from east of Aurora to the state border with Kansas, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, because of blizzard conditions.

Snow is tapering off to the west, but bands of hard snow continue to fall east of Denver Wednesday afternoon, in some areas up to an inch accumulation per hour, with winds gusting to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Areas of blowing and drifting snow have reduced visibilities to less than ¼ of a mile.

Roads throughout the state, including I-70 and I-25, are icy and snow packed in spots, according to CDOT, and conditions are "adverse" on the plains.

Other highway and road closures include:

• U.S. Highway 24 is closed between Limon and Colorado Springs.

• State Highway 94 is closed between Enoch and Punkin Center.

• U.S. Highway 40/287 is closed between Limon and Kit Carson.

• State Highway 59 is closed between Seibert and Kit Carson.

In the mountains, I-70 over Vail Pass was closed at about 1:52 p.m. because of snow and for avalanche control work, CDOT said.

In the metro area, freezing temperatures, strong winds and blowing snow slowed Wednesday morning's commute and police and emergency service personnel responded to numerous fender benders and accidents throughout the day.

Snow fell in Denver for most of the morning, before letting up in the early afternoon. Skies over Denver remain cloudy and snow is expected to kick in again after 3 p.m., according to the weather service.

A skier enjoys some fresh powder, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, at Loveland Ski Area.  Snow continues to fall though out much of the on the ski area.
A skier enjoys some fresh powder, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, at Loveland Ski Area. Snow continues to fall though out much of the on the ski area. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

The city should get about 4 inches of accumulation Wednesday, the weather service reports. Winds in Denver are expected to whip up to 25 mph and below freezing temperatures will be dropping during the day as the cold front settles in, the weather service said.

Roads on Wednesday will be icy, slushy and snow packed. Drivers should take caution, especially when crossing bridges and overpasses.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office went on accident alert status on Wednesday afternoon.

Jenny Damitio, who doesn’t own a car, makes her way to work on her bike near the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder on Wednesday, December 19th,
Jenny Damitio, who doesn't own a car, makes her way to work on her bike near the Pearl Street Mall in downtown Boulder on Wednesday, December 19th, 2102. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

On Wednesday morning, Evergreen had received about 5 inches of snow and Glen Haven, in Larimer County, had 11 inches as of 6 a.m., according to weather service spotters.

Denver Public Schools, in a Tweet, said buses were running between 5 and 10 minutes late Wednesday because of the snow and slick roads.

At Denver International Airport, departing flight delays were averaging about 30 minutes, mostly because of de-icing procedures.

There have been a "handful" of cancellations, mostly regional or commuter flights, said Laura Coale, an airport spokeswoman.

Travelers can check the status of the flights at flydenver.com before heading to the airport.

The weather service has posted a "blizzard warning" for most of Colorado's Eastern Plains Wednesday, along with a "winter weather advisory" for areas to the west, including Denver, Fort Collins and the northern Front Range.

Casey Boder, 16, center, sleds down Silver Street in historic downtown Silver Plume, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, as Sarah Street, left, walks downtown.
Casey Boder, 16, center, sleds down Silver Street in historic downtown Silver Plume, Wednesday, December 19, 2012, as Sarah Street, left, walks downtown. Snow continues to falls though out much of the day in the area. (RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post)

Snow and winds should be persistent throughout the day Wednesday and up to four inches of snow is expected in Denver, the weather service reports. The high temperature in the city should be about 23 degrees around noon, and then steadily drop through the afternoon down to about 12 degrees late in the day.

Wednesday night the temperature in Denver should drop to about 7 degrees by about 8 p.m., according to the weather service. Windchill values overnight will be as low as -3 degrees.

On the Eastern Plains winds will whip up to 45 mph Wednesday, causing blizzard conditions this afternoon, the weather service warns. Up to seven inches of snow is expected in some areas east of Denver.

In the mountains and foothills, the storm will leave behind up to eight inches of snow Wednesday, before winding down overnight.

The eastbound storm should clear out overnight and Denver skies should be sunny on Thursday, with a high temperature of 43 degrees.

Kieran Nicholson: 303-954-1822, knicholson@denverpost.com or twitter.com/kierannicholson