A powerful snowstorm stretched across the Southwest and Great Plains of the US on Monday, and motorists in New Mexico were left stranded while holiday travel was left in chaos. Blizzard warnings were issued across the region for New Mexico, Texas, the Oklahoma Panhandles and areas of Colorado and Kansas – with predictions of up to 18 inches of snowfall in some parts.
According to police, all roads from Raton in northern New Mexico to the borders of Texas and Oklahoma were closed, and it’s unknown how many motorists were stranded in a blizzard along rural main roads. Some of Interstate 25, which is the main route from Santa Fe to Colorado in the northeast, was among one of the closed roads. Motorists on some roads that were still open had been forced to pull off the road. Clayton police dispatcher Cindy Blackwell says that their phones had been ringing like crazy. All she could do was answer calls and notify the state police, she told reporters.
As the snowstorm headed east and into Missouri and the Great Lakes on Tuesday, it began to weaken. Officials were reopening some interstates, and authorities were still reporting 10-foot-high snow drifts in southeast Colorado. In Texas, officials were warning motorists to avoid roads in the Panhandle so crews could have a clear path to remove snow and ice. Motorways in the western half of the Oklahoma Panhandle, however, were still closed.
Interstate 40 in New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle was reopened, while parts of Interstate 70 in western Kansas were also reopened after having been closed. The section of Interstate 25 in New Mexico that had been shutdown was also reopened after drifts as high as 5 feet were cleared by crews.
Some travellers were forced to postpone their holiday travel due to the poor conditions. At Boise City, Oklahoma’s Longhorn Motel, at least 40 people were left stranded after drifts between two and three feet high had closed the main road. Manager Pedro Segovia said that some people were unable to get out of their houses as well. Receptionist MaKenzee Grove, who was also stranded at the hotel, sympathised with the guests. She noted that the wind is what’s making this so bad, adding that some of the guests were able to leave for Oklahoma City on Tuesday while others would have to wait another day for the roads to clear.
Meanwhile, authorities have blamed at least six deaths on the snowstorm, with four of them being killed when their car crashed into a pickup truck in eastern New Mexico during the blizzard-like conditions. Additionally, a prison guard and inmate were killed in eastern Colorado when a prison van crashed on an icy road.
Author's Google+ page