Fierce snowstorm gains strength after hitting West

A bird is perched on a mound of snow after a snowstorm on Mt. Hamilton in San Jose, Calif., Monday, Dec. 7, 2009. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

December 8, 2009 7:03:55 AM PST
A howling winter storm barreled through the West, hitting the mountain states with snow and fierce winds as it headed toward the country's midsection on Tuesday.