Winter storm to lash Southwest, plains states

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 19, 2011 10:33 AM
Winter storm to lash Southwest, plains states

(Reuters) - Bitter cold, strong winds and heavy snow were expected to pummel the Southwest and plains states on Monday with blizzard conditions possible in parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Heavy rain in parts of the region was expected to change to snow by afternoon into the evening with six to 12 inches of snow in most areas, meteorologists said.

Some areas could pick up more than a foot of snow.

Rapidly falling snow coupled with wind gusts topping 40 mph could create blizzard conditions, said.

The Oklahoma Panhandle, southwest Kansas and the northeastern corner of New Mexico were expected to see some of the worst conditions, senior meteorologist Tom Kines said.

"Not too far north of Amarillo, Texas, and Dodge City, Kansas -- those areas are going to get pretty nasty weather," he said.

A blizzard warning was in effect through Tuesday morning across portions of northeastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle and northern Texas, according to the National Weather Service.

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

Winter storm warnings and weather advisories were in effect for surrounding areas, NWS said, with officials warning that travel along some of the main highways in the region could be treacherous.

The storm was expected to produce near whiteout conditions across parts of central, southwest and south central Kansas overnight, NWS said.

According to strong thunderstorms were likely around Dallas and Houston as part of the storm system.

Snow and rain were expected to taper off by Tuesday morning around the region as the system heads toward the Northeast, Kines said.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Ian Simpson)