Blizzard kills two in nation’s midsection
LUBBOCK, Texas – The nation’s midsection again dealt with blizzard conditions Monday that closed highways, knocked out power to thousands in Texas and Oklahoma, and even brought hurricane-force winds to the Texas Panhandle. Two people have died.
Already under a deep snowpack from last week’s storm, Kansas was preparing for another round of heavy snow Monday evening and overnight, prompting some to wonder what it could do for the drought.
“Is it a drought-buster? Absolutely not,” National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy said. “Will it bring short-term improvement? Yes.”
The storm is being blamed for two deaths Monday. In northwest Kansas, a 21-year-old man’s SUV hit an icy patch on Interstate 70 and overturned. And in the northwest town of Woodward, Okla., heavy snow caused a roof to collapse, killing one inside the home.
Earlier on Monday, blizzard warnings extended from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles into south-central Kansas. The blizzard warnings were dropped Monday evening for the far western portion of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.
As many as 10,000 people lost power in Oklahoma, as did thousands more in Texas.
Meanwhile, to the east, lines of thunderstorms crossed Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, bringing heavy rain and an occasional tornado warning.
Colorado and New Mexico were the first to see the system Sunday night, with up to 2 feet falling in the foothills west of Denver.
As it moved into the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles Monday, the storm ground travel to a halt, closing miles of interstates and state highways.
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Daniel Hawthorne said about a dozen motorists had to be rescued, but no one was injured. The National Weather Service in Lubbock reported at one point that as many as 100 vehicles were at a standstill on Interstate 27.
Extremely strong winds whipped around at least a foot or more of snow in the Texas Panhandle, and a hurricane-force wind gust of 75 mph was recorded at the Amarillo airport. Amarillo recorded the biggest snowfall total in Texas – 19 inches, just short of the record of 19.3 – while Fritch was second with 16.
Through today, the storm is forecast to spin toward the upper Midwest, bringing snow to Chicago and eventually Detroit before heading toward Buffalo, N.Y, and northern New England in the middle of the week.