By Doyle Rice, USA TODAY
A ferocious blizzard blasted the southern Plains with heavy snow and
high winds Monday, burying much of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles
under more than a foot of snow, wreaking travel havoc on the roads and
in the air.
Overnight Monday and through the day Tuesday, the
storm will slowly slog to the north and east, bringing a swath of snow
across Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan, the National
Weather Service reported.
"This storm will have a huge impact,
with additional heavy snows likely over portions of eastern Kansas and
northern Missouri which received very heavy snowfall amounts last week,"
weather service meteorologist Robert Oravec wrote in an online
The storm is 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 one inside the home.
the big cities that will see accumulating snow Tuesday are Kansas City,
Chicago, Milwaukee and Detroit, according to AccuWeather. The heaviest
snow is forecast Tuesday around Kansas City, which should easily see a
foot of snow. Chicago should receive about 3-6 inches of snow.
storm will continue to dump snow across the Lower Great Lakes region
Tuesday night and into northern New York State and northern New England
on Wednesday, Oravec says.
The storm forced road closures in Texas
on Monday. Paul Braun, a spokesman for the Texas Department of
Transportation, said whiteout conditions and drifting snow had made all
roads in the Texas Panhandle impassable. Interstate 40 was closed from
Amarillo to the Oklahoma state line Monday.
"It's just a good day
to stay home," Braun said. "This is one of the worst ones we've had for a
while," he said. "And we kind of know snow up here."
was also affected: Both the Amarillo and Lubbock airports closed Monday,
and airlines are pre-emptively canceling flights and waiving fees as
the storm moves across the central U.S.
U.S. carriers have
canceled about 1,300 flights since the storm began affecting travelers
Sunday. And with the storm expected to bring wintry precipitation to
Chicago's two big airports by Tuesday afternoon, flight schedules may
take another hit.
This week's snowstorm comes on the heels of another storm that walloped the region with heavy snow last week.
weather service had issued blizzard warnings and watches Monday in New
Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas as the storm tracked northeast
across the region. In all, some form of winter storm watches and
warnings were in effect late Monday all the way from eastern New Mexico
to eastern Michigan, a distance of almost 1,400 miles.
afternoon, 19 inches of snow had fallen in Amarillo, Texas, where
forecasters said up to 20 inches could fall. This made it Amarillo's
second-greatest 24-hour snowfall on record, and the weather service
reported that the city's all-time 24-hour snowfall record of 20.6 inches
could be broken.
The all-time, 24-hour Texas record snowfall of
25 inches is also in jeopardy, as some parts of the Panhandle could
surpass that by the time the storm comes to an end overnight.
with the snow, a weather station in Pantex, Texas, reported a wind gust
Monday morning of 77 mph. A wind gust of 84 mph was reported near El
Paso, well south of the snowstorm.
In the Oklahoma Panhandle and
counties along the Kansas border, the weather service warned that travel
in the area would be "very dangerous" until Tuesday morning with near
zero visibility and drifting snow.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol
closed all highways in the Panhandle, citing slick roads and limited
visibility. Trooper Betsy Randolph said the patrol advised its
non-essential personnel to stay home until Wednesday.
also warned of possible severe weather in the Southeast, part of the
same massive storm that's pounding the Plains with snow. The Storm
Prediction Center has placed parts of eastern Texas, southern Arkansas,
southern Mississippi, all of Louisiana, and northern Florida under a
tornado watch until 8 p.m. ET. This includes the cities of New Orleans,
Baton Rouge, Jacksonville and Gainesville, Fla.
AccuWeather reported that a possible late-afternoon tornado damaged vehicles and downed power lines near East Houma, La.
In the drought-stricken Plains, thirsting for moisture, the storm
could help replenish the groundwater. Climatologists say 12 inches of
snow is equivalent to about 1 inch of rain, depending on the density of
"Is it a drought buster? Absolutely not," Victor Murphy
with the weather service in Fort Worth, Texas, said. "Will it bring
short-term improvement? Yes."
The Weather Channel has named the storm "Rocky." No other federal or private forecasters are using this name.
Lehenbauer, emergency management director for Woodward County, Okla.,
told the Associated Press he was expecting whiteout conditions and that
although there was plenty of salt and sand on hand to clear roads,
delays were still likely.
"We may not get the roads cleared until midday Tuesday if we get the
expected amount of snow and wind. As it's falling, in the blizzard-like
conditions, we just won't be able to keep up," Lehenbauer said late
weather service warned of similar high winds and upward of a foot of
snow across south-central Kansas. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback amended a
state of emergency declaration to include the new weather.
storm has the potential to be more dangerous than last week's storm,"
Brownback said. The storm late last week dumped more than a foot of snow
in some places, closing airports and leading to several deadly traffic
Brownback urged motorists to "stay off the road unless
it's absolutely critical," adding that drivers who must travel should
pack charged cellphones and emergency kits containing food, water,
blankets, road flares and shovels.
"It would have been nice if
we'd had a few days to recover, to do some equipment rehab," Joe Pajor,
deputy director of public works in Wichita, told The Wichita Eagle. The city saw its second-highest snowfall Thursday with 14.2 inches.
could see its snowiest single month on record if the city receives 6.4
inches from this storm, according to weather historian Christopher Burt
of the Weather Underground.
The southern Kansas town of Zenda saw
18 inches of snow last week, while 17 inches fell in Hays, Kan., about
13 inches in northeast Missouri and 12 inches in parts of Kansas City.
warned that sand and salt supplies were low after last week's storm and
that the city's strategy might just be to plow snow into the center of
arterial streets and cut traffic to one lane in each direction. He said
the city wouldn't begin to use its limited sand and salt supply until
the snow stopped falling and plowing was under way.
The incoming storm sent Amarillo residents running out for last-minute supplies. Mario Delgado, 57, needed milk.
"I got all the good stuff like soup and peanut butter the other day," Delgado told the Amarillo Globe-News. "We're used to it here."
He added: "As long as you got plenty of clothes and the right kind of shoes, you'll be alright."
Contributing: Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY; Associated Press