From eastern Texas to western New Mexico, nature’s fiercest elements were on full display late Saturday into Sunday as a deadly, powerhouse storm system shot out of the Southern Plains.
An incredible east-west temperature contrast energized the four-season storm and blizzard conditions were separated by mere miles from violent thunderstorms.
In the storm’s warm sector in eastern Texas, where temperatures spiked to around 80 degrees, devastating tornadoes damaged or destroyed 1,000 structures and claimed 11 lives near Dallas – the deadliest tornado event there in 90 years.
But in west Texas into central New Mexico, snow drifts towered over ten feet high.
Five reports of tornadoes were logged by the National Weather Service in Texas Saturday but, by far, the most devastating was the EF4-rated (on the 0 to 5 scale) twister that decimated parts of Garland and Rowlett, just northeast of Dallas. This tornado killed eight people and it was the strongest to touch down so far west in December on record, according to U.S. Tornadoes.
Photos and video of the actual tornado, which struck during the dark of night, are terrifying:
The images of the destruction are heart-breaking:
New Mexico-Texas blizzard
Eastern New Mexico was hammered by high winds and blowing snow that officials described as “life-threatening”. After cars and emergency vehicles were stranded on major interstates, a civil emergency was declared.
“This is a dire situation, especially the eastern part of the state,” said New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.
Heavy snows also proved crippling in northern and western Texas, where many schools are closed today. Lubbock tallied 8.8 inches of snow and whiteout conditions also impacted Amarillo and Midland/Odessa.
Photos from this region reveal the storm’s winter harshness and are a stark contrast from Saturday’s violent spring-like scenes around Dallas (though Dallas, as of Monday morning, was reporting snow in the storm’s icy wake):