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Intense Texas Blizzard Caught in Videos

Blizzard in Amarillo whites out parking lot.
Blizzard conditions on the morning of Feb. 25, 2013 in Amarillo, Tex. (Image credit: NWS Amarillo)

Driving snow and gusting winds reduce visibility to next to nothing in two wild videos taken in Amarillo, Tex., during today's historic blizzard.

The storm, which has dumped at least 17 inches (43 centimeters) of snow on Amarillo so far today (Feb. 25), has closed most roads in the Texas panhandle, including the major thoroughfares of Interstates 40 and 27. Around 11 a.m. CST, the Amarillo International Airport recorded a hurricane-force 75-mph gust of wind.

"This is easily in the top three historic snows we've ever had," said Krissy Scotten, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Amarillo. "And we've had records since 1892."

Whiteout conditions

Two videos, taken by Scotten and posted on the NWS Amarillo Facebook page, hint at the fury of the blizzard. Blowing snow obscures the parking lot outside the NWS Amarillo office, where drifts of 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) were forming, Scotten said. Visibility in the early afternoon remained at a quarter-mile (0.4 km) or less. [See video of the blizzard]

"Travel is pretty much nonexistent in the Texas panhandle right now," Scotten said.

The wind was so strong as Scotten took the videos that the blowing snow stung her face, she said. As of about 1:30 p.m. CST the snow was tapering off, but the winds were still gusting near 50 mph (80 kmh).

"Light to moderate snow will continue for the next several hours, probably three to four hours," Scotten said. "Amarillo could pick up another 2 to 3 inches [5 to 7.6 cm]."

The city averages less than 19 inches (48 cm) of snow a year, making the 17 inches that have already fallen nearly equivalent to an entire year's supply.

Major storm

The blizzard now slamming Amarillo and the Texas panhandle dumped 9 inches (23 cm) of snow in Denver on Sunday (Feb. 24), according to the National Weather Service. The Denver International Airport canceled some 200 flights and delayed hundreds more in response to the snow.

The storm is now expanding toward Kansas and will reach northwestern Missouri by nightfall, according to AccuWeather.com. Oklahoma will also see blizzard conditions.

This is the second blizzard in mere days for the Great Plains. On Feb. 22, a storm dropped snow over the region, crippling travel in Kansas. Russell, Kan., a small town in the central part of the state, saw 22 inches (56 cm) of snow from that snow storm, and the latest blizzard will add to the snow already on the ground.  

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Stephanie Pappas
Live Science Contributor

Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics ranging from geoscience to archaeology to the human brain and behavior. She was previously a senior writer for Live Science but is now a freelancer based in Denver, Colorado, and regularly contributes to Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthly magazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.