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Plains, Midwest take another hit with heavy snow, hurricane-force gusts

A storm dumped 17 inches of snow on Amarillo and hit other parts of the Texas Panhandle with high winds on Monday.

The Amarillo Globe News via Associated Press

A storm dumped 17 inches of snow on Amarillo and hit other parts of the Texas Panhandle with high winds on Monday.

LUBBOCK, Texas — The nation’s midsection again dealt with blizzard conditions Monday, the storm bringing hurricane-force winds to the Texas Panhandle, closing highways, and knocking out power to thousands in Texas and Oklahoma.

Kansas, already under a deep snowpack from last week’s snowstorm, was on high alert as the system headed north and east Monday evening and overnight. The storm is blamed in the death of a 21-year-old man whose SUV hit an icy patch on Interstate 70 in northwestern Kansas and overturned Monday.

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Blizzard warnings were in effect for the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, as well as southern Kansas through early Tuesday morning, while Arkansas and Louisiana saw watches and warnings for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. The storm is forecast to track north and east, prompting winter storm warnings for southern and eastern Kansas and the upper half of Missouri.

A strong low-pressure system is feeding the storm, said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla.

‘‘The more intense the low, the stronger the storm as far as pulling air in,’’ he said, noting that intense winter storms are common in the Plains during late February and March.

Up to 10 inches of snow fell in parts of New Mexico, and the foothills west of Denver saw up to two feet of snow. The moisture allowed the US Forest Service to burn brush in northern Colorado to try to prevent future wildfires.

Although the wintry precipitation is beneficial, the National Drought Mitigation Center said Monday, the drought is not over. Climatologist Mark Svoboda said 12 inches of snow is equivalent to about 1 inch of rain.

Earlier Monday in the Texas Panhandle, wind gusts up to 75 miles per hour and heavy snow had made all roads impassable and created whiteout conditions, Paul Braun, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation, said. A hurricane-force gust of 75 miles per hour was recorded at the Amarillo, Texas, airport.

But by the late afternoon, Braun said conditions were improving and plowing was picking back up in the rural areas.

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