13 Jet Windshields Crack in Denver Cold

Airlines are investigating why windshields cracked on at least 13 planes at Denver International Airport while a storm was whipping through the area with wind of up to 100 mph.

No emergencies were declared and no injuries were reported. None of the pilots reported flying debris, officials said.

Several major highways had reopened after being closed Friday because of blowing snow and whiteout conditions, although some mountain sections remained closed Saturday - including U.S. 40 over Berthoud Pass, where an avalanche buried two cars last month.

The storm system, which brought nearly a foot of fresh powder to ski resorts, had mostly moved out of the state Saturday.

Elsewhere, a twin-engine Cessna crashed during a snowstorm southeast of the airport at Council Bluffs, Iowa, killing at least three people late Friday, officials said.

The cause of the crash was not yet known. The National Weather Service said a fast-moving storm was pushing through the area with snow, wind gusting up to 53 mph and poor visibility.

SkyWest Airlines reported cracked windshields on eight planes that were taking off or landing Friday as wind gusted up to 50 mph, spokeswoman Marissa Snow said. One plane's windshield cracked while it was airborne.

"Only the outermost layer was affected," Snow said of the windshields, which are made of multiple layers of glass.

SkyWest, a regional carrier for United Airlines, said the planes were Embraer EMB120 Brasilias and Bombardier Canadair Regional Jets.

Frontier Airlines Airbus had two planes whose windshields cracked in flight, and two others that cracked while sitting at gates, airline spokesman Joe Hodas said.

Hodas said it wasn't clear if the wind was to blame.

"It's not exactly unusual weather for Denver," Hodas said. "We don't know what it is... It's kind of a mystery at this point."

At least 55 flights were canceled and others were diverted.

Parts of Interstate 80 were closed in southern Wyoming between Cheyenne and Laramie because of windblown snow and icy patches.

Before the closing, the driver and passenger of a tractor-trailer were killed in a crash at Laramie, the highway patrol said.

In Pennsylvania, the last of hundreds of motorists stranded on a 50-mile stretch of Interstate 78 were freed Friday, but several other highways remained shut as crews struggled to clear ice and snow following the monster storm that was blamed for at least 24 deaths in the Northeast and Midwest.

Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell apologized for the state's "totally unacceptable" handling of the storm and the I-78 tie-up, where some motorists were stranded for as long as 24 hours. He blamed an "almost total breakdown in communication" among state agencies.

At least 24 deaths were blamed on the storm system and accompanying cold: six in Ohio; three in Nebraska; two each in Illinois, Indiana, New York, New Jersey and Delaware; and one each in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Hampshire and Louisiana.


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