LUBBOCK, Texas - The nation's midsection again dealt with blizzard conditions Monday, closing highways, knocking out power to thousands in Texas and Oklahoma and even bringing 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 whether it could help counter drought conditions.
Extremely strong winds whipped around at least a foot or more of snow in the Texas Panhandle, and a hurricane-force gust of 75 mph was recorded at the Amarillo airport. Amarillo recorded the deepest snowfall total in Texas - 19 inches, just short of the record of 19.3 - while Fritch was second with 16.
"Is it a drought-buster? Absolutely not," National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy said. "Will it bring short-term improvement? Yes."
The storm was being blamed for two deaths on 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 a person inside the home.
Blizzard warnings extended from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles into south-central Kansas. To the east, lines of thunderstorms crossed Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, bringing heavy rain and an occasional tornado warning.
As many as 10,000 people lost power in Oklahoma, as did thousands more in Texas.
"I have a gas cooking stove and got the oven going," said Ann Smith, owner of the Standifer House Bed and Breakfast in Elk City, Okla., late Monday afternoon. Her daughter and grandchildren had come over because they lost power.
"If it gets cold tonight, I guess we'll have to put pallets in the kitchen," Smith said with a laugh.
Colorado and New Mexico were the first to see the system Sunday night, with up to two 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.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed all highways in the panhandle and much of the state's northwest because of blizzard conditions. Trooper Betsy Randolph said several dozen motorists reported being stranded or had abandoned their vehicles.
On StarNet: View the five-day forecast for Tucson and Southern Arizona at azstarnet.com/app/weather