Roads in Texas Panhandle reopen following storm


Associated Press

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 12:02 PM

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) — Primary roadways in the Texas Panhandle reopened Tuesday as sunny conditions began to thaw ice and snow-packed surfaces slickened by a blizzard that blanketed the region.

Interstate 27 reopened between snow-hammered Amarillo and Lubbock, about 120 miles to the south. Texas National Guard units helped clear Interstate 40 from the Oklahoma border to the New Mexico state line. The interstate reopened Tuesday afternoon.

U.S. 287 reopened in both directions, as did U.S. 385, U.S. 60 and U.S. 54. Portions of Highway 87 in the Dalhart and Dumas areas still were being cleared. A stretch of U.S. 83 remained closed.

State troopers, area sheriff's offices and National Guard members rescued 32 stranded motorists from their vehicles Monday, Department of Public Safety spokesman Daniel Hawthorne said. Some workers had been stuck at the National Weather Service office in Amarillo since Sunday night after snow drifts up to 6 feet high covered their cars in the parking lot, meteorologist Krissy Scotten said.

Crews were working to clear snow from still-closed roadways, Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Paul Braun said. Temperatures in the Amarillo area reached the mid-30s on Tuesday and combined with sunny skies to melt ice and snow.

"It's going to be kind of a delayed process, a very involved process," he said of the road-clearing effort.

Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport reopened but American Airlines and United Airlines didn't plan on having departures until Wednesday. Southwest Airlines won't depart the airport until after its last inbound flight Tuesday evening.

James Loomis, executive director at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, said flights resumed late Monday, though travelers on Southwest should call the airline as it has experienced delays.

City offices in Amarillo were closed Tuesday and the city's school district canceled classes for a second day. Classes at many schools in Lubbock started late.

Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves said there were 8,600 customers in New Mexico and Texas without power during the blizzard. Virtually all of them had electricity restored Tuesday.