AMARILLO (AP) – Travelers in the Texas Panhandle were urged to stay off ice-packed roads Tuesday after 10 inches of snow covered parts of the region.
Several major thoroughfares were closed after the storm clipped the far northwest part of the state the day before the official start of winter. Numerous wrecks were reported, some with injuries, as vehicles slid off roads. No fatalities were immediately reported, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
“Do not go to the Panhandle,” DPS Trooper Lonny Haschel said. “We’re really discouraging people from traveling, especially west of Amarillo right now.”
About 15 miles of Interstate 40, the main east-west road through the Panhandle, were closed west of Amarillo due to ice and blowing snow. Segments of other highways, including U.S. 385 into Dalhart and U.S. 87 north and west of Amarillo, also were shut down.
“We need roadways clear so crews can get in and take care of this snow and ice,” Haschel said.
The National Weather Service had a blizzard warning and winter weather advisory in effect until midday Tuesday for the Amarillo area.
Amarillo was spared the brunt of the storm, receiving only 1 to 3 inches of snow Monday night. But road closures prompted the Amarillo Globe-News to announce on its Web site that it would not be able to deliver newspapers to several area towns. About 1,500 homes in the Amarillo area were reported to be without power early Tuesday. Public schools in the city remained open.
The Dalhart Independent School District called off classes Tuesday after the area received up to 7 inches of snow. The National Weather Service says flurries were still falling Tuesday in Dalhart, located 30 miles south of the Oklahoma state line.
Forecaster Todd Beal told The Associated Press that 10 inches of snow had fallen since Monday outside Texline, near the border with New Mexico.
“The northwest part of the Texas Panhandle got hit pretty hard,” Beal said, adding that the storm was moving east Tuesday and the worst was over.
Haschel said officials are more prepared for snow and wintry weather in the Panhandle than elsewhere in Texas and “we have the equipment and personnel we need” to deal with it.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)