Tornadoes, heavy snow hit parts of U.S.

Last Updated May 12, 2014 11:52 AM EDT

DENVER -- A violent spring storm was moving across the Midwest toward the Great Lakes early Monday, leaving a trail of damage across parts of Nebraska. This, as dozens of snowplows were taking to the streets of Denver after a powerful spring storm dropped more than a foot of heavy, wet snow across parts of Colorado and Wyoming.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of northern Colorado and parts of southern Wyoming through Monday morning, reports CBS Denver.

The stormy weather moving across the Plains states was drawing warnings about conditions ripe for more severe thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Sunday's Nebraska tornadoes caused damage in several towns and rural areas in the east of the state. Officials said they damaged homes and businesses in or near Sutton, Garland, Cordova and Daykin, and knocked out power to 18,000 utility customers.

One apparent tornado set down in Beaver Crossing, Neb., reports CBS Lincoln, Neb. affiliate KOLN-TV. The funnel damaged some homes and caused a power outage.

Large hail and strong winds were expected to head into Kansas, and a tornado watch was issued for parts of Oklahoma.

In Omaha, a massive tree fell on a home, trapping a couple inside, reports CBS affiliate KMTV.

The storm system was expected to weaken as it headed from the Plains, possibly bringing rain as it moved into the Great Lakes, the weather service said.

Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist for the weather service in Boulder, said the weather pattern is typical for this time of year and, "It's going to be kind of the same thing pretty much through the end of June."

The storm brought picturesque scenes to some areas.

"We got about a foot of snow and all the trees are covered. It looks like a beautiful painting," said Janie Robertson, owner of the Dripping Springs Resort B&B in Estes Park.

In Colorado, Department of Transportation officials said plunging temperatures and snow created icy road conditions, and multiple accidents were reported on several highways Sunday.

Denver officials said they were deploying 70 snowplows overnight to prepare for Monday's commute.

Julie Smith, a spokeswoman for Denver International Airport, said crews have treated runways in anticipation of dropping temperatures Sunday night.

"At this point we are seeing some delays with our airlines while they are getting their deicing operations up and running, and we do expect the airlines to be fully deicing in the morning," she said.

Southwest of Denver, a seven-car pileup Sunday evening injured a sheriff's deputy and three civilians on U.S. 285 near the community of Doubleheader, The Denver Post reported. Weather was likely a factor in the crash, but its cause was still being investigated, sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Kelley told the newspaper.

"The roads are just really bad out there," she said.

In another Highway 285 crash, the State Patrol said a Jefferson County Sheriff's deputy who was helping a motorist that slid off the roadway was taken to a hospital with undetermined injuries after the deputy's parked car was stuck by an SUV. Two people in the SUV were also hospitalized as a precaution.

"May snow certainly isn't unheard of here in Colorado, even down in the Denver metro area," said David Barjenbruch, another weather service meteorologist in Boulder. "If we see the total accumulations that we are anticipating from this storm, we are certainly going to see a top 10 May snow event for the Denver metro area."

In southern Wyoming, the storm forced transportation officials to close a 150-mile stretch of Interstate 80 from Cheyenne to Rawlins on Sunday.

The weather service said mountainous areas in south-central Wyoming got up to 2 feet of snow, and the metro areas of Cheyenne and Laramie averaged 6 to 10 inches. Rob Cox, a weather service meteorologist in Cheyenne, said he expected more accumulation overnight, likely an additional 2 to 4 inches in some locations.

"There will be a lot of water after all this is said and done," he said, adding that there could be some localized flooding.

In the West, high winds at the bottom of the storm sent dust blowing across Arizona and New Mexico, and the Los Angeles area had been under "red flag" fire warnings, with authorities saying blazes could quickly spread out of control under low humidity, gusty winds and dry conditions.

The storm is the result of a low-pressure system moving east colliding with a cold air mass from the north.

Spring-like weather was expected to return to the Rockies by Tuesday.