Killer Snowstorm Closes Major Highways in Plains and Southwest Indian Country
As predicted by the National Weather Service, the Great Plains area was hit with a violent blizzard early Tuesday morning affecting nearly all reservations within New Mexico, parts of the Navajo Nation, the Fort Apache and White Mountain Apache reservations, and the Kickapoo, Kickapoo/Sac and Fox, and Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation Reservations in eastern Kansas.
With ice-covered roads and zero visibility, several major interstates and highways have been shut down including Interstate 40, Interstate 25, and Interstate 70, leaving holiday travelers seeking refuge in local hotels. With hotels filling up quickly, authorities have received nearly 100 emergency rescue calls from motorists in the Texas Panhandle.
This massive storm has already claimed eleven lives. Dailymail.co.uk reports that four people driving through the harsh blizzard conditions were killed after colliding with a pickup truck in eastern New Mexico. Another five people were killed, including a toddler, after a single-engine plane crashed outside of Waco, TX. While in Colorado, a prison guard and inmate were found dead after crashing along one the ice-covered roads.
According to National Weather Service’s website, as of 9 am this morning snow fall had reached 15 inches in parts of Colorado and 24 inches in Pie Town, NM, just south of several of New Mexico reservations. Although the heaviest of the snow has passed, there are still winds ranging from 15 to 25 MPH and gusts could reach over 30 MPH. The site informs drivers that “Travel through the region will likely be extremely difficult… if not impossible during the day Tuesday.”