Southwest, plains face blizzard watch

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 19, 2011 4:24 AM
Southwest, plains face blizzard watch

AUSTIN. Texas. (Reuters) - A blizzard watch is in effect until Tuesday for parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas as a severe winter storm is expected to bring high winds and up to a foot of snow there on Sunday night and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm was expected to edge into the mountains of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado before heading east on Sunday night or Monday morning, the agency said in a statement. The areas were under winter weather advisories or watches on Sunday.

A blizzard watch means forecasters believe life-threatening winter weather conditions are likely, including winds of at least 35 mph and visibility less than a quarter mile.

As the United States readies for a week of holiday travel, weather officials warned of dangerous road conditions on Sunday and Monday in the plains. The storm is expected to bring heavy rains and high-elevation snow to the mountains of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona on Sunday afternoon before moving east.

"It is likely that slippery areas will develop Sunday and progress to the east over the high ground along I-40 in Arizona and New Mexico," meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said on Accuweather.com.

"As snow spills out over the southern High Plains Sunday night and Monday, snow is likely to fall and accumulate in part of I-40 stretching across the northern Texas Panhandle and Route 54 reaching northeastward into southern Kansas."

The mix of rain and snow will move through eastern Kansas on Monday night and into the Chicago and Detroit areas on Tuesday, forecasters said.

(Writing by Karen Brooks, editing by Ian Simpson)