Blizzard Strikes Texas Panhandle; Up To 3 Inches Of Snow West Of Fort Worth
After tornadoes disappeared in North Texas, a blizzard entered the Texas Panhandle, shutting down a major highway on Sunday. And in some parts west of Dallas-Fort Worth, it turned icy Monday morning.
Anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of snow fell in counties to the west of Fort Worth overnight. Some roads were slick and slushy Monday morning, the National Weather Service says. Temperatures will stay above freezing for the most part, which means snow didn't accumulate in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The combination of storms, floods, hail and snow caused a mudslide in Tarrant County. It shut down the Sun Valley Drive exit on southbound Loop 820. No word yet on when the road will reopen.
Winter storm blasts West Texas
Marfa Public Radio has more details on the winter storm that hit parts of West Texas:
Many West Texans had to scrape their way into their vehicles on Sunday morning. The blizzard, which began in eastern New Mexico, slammed El Paso and the Texas Panhandle. On Saturday afternoon, Joel Guzman of El Paso found that the Sun Bowl, the annual football game, was not so sunny.
“It was cold and drizzly and then the snow started coming down and I was surprised how many people were there and how many people stuck it out.”
Tom Bird is a meteorologist for El Paso and eastern New Mexico: “One of the better snow storms we’ve had in well over a decade.”
By Sunday morning, the storm had strengthened. “And then in New Mexico,” Bird said, “there’s a whole lot of roads closed. They’re getting 40 to 60 mile per hour winds, with blowing snow. They’ve got drifts up to 6 feet high.”
Interstate 40 reopens
The Associated Press reports:
Texas officials say Interstate 40, the main east-west highway across the Panhandle, has reopened.
Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Cindy Barkley says the interstate reopened Monday morning. She said Texas Department of Transportation crews have been out to clear the roads.
The Texas Department of Transportation says, though, that many roads across West Texas and the Panhandle remain closed with snow-packed and icy conditions.
Elsewhere, officials say traffic on part of Interstate 10 in the western part of the state is slowly moving again after coming to a standstill due to icy conditions and multiple accidents.
Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Gene Powell said Monday morning that traffic was moving now, "very slowly" in the area where Interstate 10 splits into Interstate 20. Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Elizabeth Carter said traffic had been backed up for about 13 miles.
Powell said traffic became snarled Sunday night and there were people who were "virtually stationary" in their vehicles overnight. He said Monday a fuel truck was patrolling the area.
Vito Randazzo, of Alpine, California, was driving across the country and was among those who got stuck, beginning at about 8 p.m. Sunday. Around 9 a.m. Monday he was able to see where he could drive across a median and get onto a service road.
Oklahoma emergency officials say more than 50 people have been injured and about 175,000 are without power after a powerful winter storm blanketed much of the state with ice and brought flooding to eastern parts of the state.
Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain says there were no immediate reports of weather-related deaths, but the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is searching for two hunters missing in Kay County.
Patrol spokesman Lt. John Vincent says the men were reportedly in a boat on Kaw Lake. Vincent says rescuers found the capsized boat, but there were no signs of the men. The search resumed at daybreak Monday.
Car accidents from icy roads were reported across mostly central and western Oklahoma.
Our earlier post:
Blizzard conditions in the Panhandle
To the west, nearly all of Interstate 40 has been shut because of a snowstorm pummeling the area. I-40 is one of the main highways running east-to-west through the Texas Panhandle.
The Texas Department of Public Safety says only a small section of the highway within Amarillo remains open. Otherwise, nearly all the 178-mile stretch is shut down.
The section west of Amarillo was closed earlier Sunday. Texas State Trooper Cindy Barkley said Sunday evening that deteriorating conditions have forced authorities to also indefinitely close the highway for about 100 miles east of Amarillo to Oklahoma.
Blizzard-like conditions have led to the closure of most of Interstate 40 from Albuquerque east across the Texas Panhandle.
New Mexico State Police spokeswoman Sgt. Elizabeth Armijo said Sunday night that the stretch of interstate from Albuquerque to the Texas border would be closed through at least Monday afternoon. She urged travelers passing through New Mexico to use Interstate 10 instead.
The National Weather Service in Amarillo is predicting up to a foot of snow in the southeast portion of the Texas Panhandle. Some towns are reporting snow drifts nearing 10 feet.
Wind gusts up to 55 mph and wind chills near zero degrees are also expected.
Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Paul Braun tells the Amarillo Globe-News that crews are doing what they can to plow snow drifts, but that they "go through and it blows it right back."
Nearly 10,000 Excel Energy customers, most of them Amarillo, have been without power. High winds are blamed for knocking over utility poles and power lines.
Amarillo received only about 3 inches of snow overnight but high winds have caused 3- to 4-foot drifts. Forecasts are calling for another 4 to 8 inches of snow and winds gusting to 50 miles an hour. Albuquerque, New Mexico, has received about 6 inches of snow.