The second in a pairing of back to back blizzards is slamming the Southern Plains with blinding snow and raging, tropical-storm force winds. Blizzard warnings stretch from western New Mexico through the Texas panhandle and into southern Kansas.
Widespread 6-12 inch snowfall totals are forecast, with as much as 14-20 inches in some areas. Snow drifts of 3 to 5 feet or higher are possible and are already being observed in the Texas panhandle.
Amarillo, Texas has picked up around a foot of snow with reported winds sustained near 40 mph gusting up to 55 mph since 5 a.m. local time.
This video was taken with visibilities less than 1/4 mile and winds gusting over 55mph in Amarillo, Texas. Source: National Weather Service
“Could we be on our way to the all time 24 hr record snow for Amarillo? 20.6” is the number to beat,” tweeted the National Weather Service forecast office in Amarillo.
AccuWeather reports 400 miles of I-40 - which runs west to east through the Texas panhandle and central Oklahoma - have been shut down.
Both the Amarillo and Lubbock airports are closed due to the storm.
In Wichita, 8 to 13 inches of snow is forecast, coupled with sustained winds of 30 to 35 mph. Late last week, the city was paralyzed by 14.2 inches of snow, its second biggest snowstorm on record. The intensity of this one-two punch is unprecedented (in weather records).
“Wichita has never had more than one 8 [inch or greater] snowstorm before in the same WINTER, let alone two 1 foot [plus] storms in the same week,” said Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist for the Wall Street Journal.
Locals are calling the back-to-back storms the Blizzard of Oz parts 1 and 2.
Snow has ended in Denver, which received 9 inches of snow, canceling 200 flights.
The storm is forecast to track northeastward with Kansas City in its sights. At least 6 to 10 inches are expected in the region, with the highest amounts favored south of town. Just last Friday, the area received almost a foot of snow.
Chicago is under a winter storm watch Tuesday, for the potential of at least 6 inches of snow.
On the storm’s south side, there is a severe weather risk for parts of southeast Texas, southern Arkansas, Louisiana, southern Mississippi, southern Alabama, and the Florida panhandle. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center says tornado watches are likely in these areas.
Although the storm promises to immobilize travel across a wide swath of the Southern Plains and Midwest, the vast quantities of water it is depositing is excellent news for the drought in the region.
As for the East Coast, the storm is forecast to weaken, but may still lay down some heavy snow in the interior of Pennyslvania and New York Tuesday and Tuesday night. Along the I-95 corridor, mostly rain is forecast from the Mid-Atlantic into New England.
Here’s a video overview of the storm