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Excessive Heat Warning

Rockies, Plains Digging Out from Deadly Blizzard

By By Bill Deger, Meteorologist
December 21, 2011, 1:36:15 AM EST

Snow will wind down over the Plains today, but travel disruptions will continue as residents begin to dig out from the season's first large blizzard.

More than a foot of snow was reported in parts of New Mexico, Colorado and Kansas from the storm, which forced the closure of portions of major interstates 25 and 70 for a time.

Wind gusts above 50 mph caused massive drifts along the wide open land of the western Plains.

Snow drifts as high as 10 feet were observed near the heart of the heaviest snow in Springfield, Colo. Meanwhile, numerous vehicles remain stranded along Highway 83 in Scott City, Kan., thanks to 4-foot drifts.

At least six deaths are deaths are being attributed to the storm. A prison guard and inmate lost their lives in a van accident being blamed on icy roads near Limon, Colo., while four people were killed when a car collided with a truck in eastern New Mexico. Meteorologist Cory Mottice, who was live-tweeting during the blizzard, reported that the roads were nearly impassible on Tuesday night in Garden City, Kan., where a foot of snow fell.

Notable Snow Totals as of Early Tuesday Morning:

-- La Junta, Colo.: 15.0"

-- Springfield, Colo.: 15.0"

-- Grants, N.M.: 14.0"

-- Beulah, Colo.: 12.4"

-- Bluewater Lake, N.M.: 12.0"

-- Garden City, Kan.: 12.0"

-- Kenton, Okla.: 10.0"

-- Syracuse, Kan.: 10.0"

-- Guymon, Texas: 6.0"

Dalhart, Texas, shattered the daily snow record with 7.0 inches falling on Monday. The previous record was 0.1 inch back in 1983.


Numerous highways remain closed across Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. For the latest road conditions, click on any state name in this paragraph.

Travel will be nearly impossible for a time today across parts of the hardest hit areas, and with temperatures forecast to remain chilly, little snow melt is expected.

As the storm pushes east today, cooler air will change rain over to snow across eastern Kansas and northwestern Missouri today, but snowfall totals and wind speeds will be much lighter by comparison.

Another 1 to 3 inches will accumulate across a large chunk of central and eastern Kansas.


Parts of the Kansas City area will get a coating to an inch of snow through early tonight as any rain and sleet begins to change over.

The same storm responsible for the blizzard conditions over the Plains will bring the threat of wintry precipitation to the interior Northeast early on Wednesday.

Major Midwestern cities including Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland will be spared of any accumulating snow, according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

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