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Winter Weather Grounds Some Travelers


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

A massive blizzard is wreaking havoc in the middle of the country. The storm system moved through Colorado, New Mexico and parts of Kansas overnight, killing at least half a dozen people and burying the region in snow. Many highways are still closed and thousands are holed up in hotels and motels, waiting for the storm to move on and the roads to be cleared.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn has our story from Dallas.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: She came rolling off the West Coast, bringing welcome snow to ski resorts in New Mexico and Colorado. As the front sped across the Texas Panhandle and Midwest yesterday evening, the rain turned to ice and then snow.

Jason Dunn is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

JASON DUNN: This was really just a really strong storm system. We had a lot of moisture to work with. And usually the stronger systems like this will have a lot of wind with and that's really part of the problem.

EDDIE ADAMSON: We had blinding snow. I mean you could not see past the hood of your car.

GOODWYN: Eddie Adamson is the Chief of Police in Guymon, Oklahoma.

ADAMSON: The winds were blowing 50 miles an hour and a heavy snowfall was just making travel terrible.

GOODWYN: In fact, it made it pretty impossible. As the brief dusk turned to night, the weather turned ugly. The local roads in and out of Guymon were closed and within minutes the highways and interstates ground to a halt.

ADAMSON: All the highways and roads were shut down. The city streets and especially the secondary streets were just completely impassable.

GOODWYN: In specially-equipped 4x4's, Chief Adamson's officers rescued the unlucky and unwise who were caught in the storm and brought them to Guymon.

ADAMSON: The Red Cross came in and set up a shelter at the Methodist Church here in Guymon, which is a large facility with a large gymnasium, commercial kitchen, and all the things that people would need.

GOODWYN: Dozens of vehicles are in ditches. But Adamson says nobody's been injured or killed in his neck of the woods. But elsewhere there have been fatalities. A woman in Kansas was killed on her way to work at 5:30 this morning, when her car became stuck in the snow on top of a railroad crossing and she was hit by the train. In eastern Colorado, a prison guard and his prisoner died together when their van lost traction in the fierce snowstorm and ran off the road.

But for most, the storm has been an annoyance or an adventure depending on your point of view or perhaps your age. Jo Beth Vijil-Price is the owner of the historic Eklund Hotel in Clayton New Mexico.

JO BETH VIJIL-PRICE: We have families with babies and we have kids running up and down these five-foot high snow drifts, and they're having the greatest of time.

GOODWYN: As for the truckers, most are not running up and down five-foot high snow drifts and they're not having the greatest of times. Julie Hendrickson works at the Iron Skillet Restaurant at the Petro in Amarillo where 500 truckers are stranded.

JULIE HENDRICKSON: We have a lot of drivers who are stuck out here trying to get home for Christmas. And they're all just waiting around, waiting to see when the roads are going to open.

GOODWYN: For some of these truckers there's going to be some lost time to make up if they're going to get home in time for turkey dinner.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Wade Goodwyn is an NPR National Desk Correspondent covering Texas and the surrounding states.