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Snowstorm rolls through southern Rockies onto Plains

December 23, 1997

Snow plastered the Southwest and blew out onto the Plains today, blocking New Mexico highways and knocking down power lines.

Snow fell from New Mexico and southern Colorado into western Kansas and the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. The National Weather Service posted heavy snow warnings and winter storm warnings for the Texas Panhandle and part of the state’s South Plains, and for parts of eastern New Mexico.

Highways in much of New Mexico were snowpacked and icy today and most of Interstate 40 was closed by more than a foot of snow from Albuquerque to the Texas state line. In the southwestern part of the state, I-40 was closed overnight between Socorro and Truth or Consequences.

Even Roswell in southeastern New Mexico had 10 inches of snow today, clogging roads and causing power outages.

``We were too shorthanded to go out and check on all of the elderly people without electricity,″ sheriff’s administrator Becky Hamner said today in Roswell.

On Monday, up to 20 inches of snow fell on northern Arizona’s San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff and on the top of Mount Lemmon outside Tucson in the south.

Heavy rain stretched eastward through Texas into southern Mississippi today and was expected to extend along the Gulf Coast into Florida. Strong thunderstorms produced wind gusts to 70 mph in parts of Texas.

Flash flood watches were issued for northern and southeastern Texas and much of Louisiana.

In the Northeast, snow fell today across much of upstate New York and northern New England, with rain moving across eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and southern New England.

Schools opened late or closed in parts of upstate New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport shut down for part of the morning to let plows clear the runways. ``Visibility was so bad they could not see the equipment,″ airport spokesman Kevin Lynch said.

Snow also was scattered over the Northwest early today with showers in western sections of Washington and Oregon.

Highs were forecast in the 30s and 40s over most of the country; in the teens and 20s in parts of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado; in the 50s and 60s from the mid-Atlantic states to the Gulf Coast and in Southern California and southern Arizona; and in the 70s and 80s in Florida.

The highest reading in the lower 48 states Monday was 86 at Fort Myers, Fla. Today’s low was 18 below zero at West Yellowstone, Mont., while Ely, Nev., had a wind chill of 32 below.

Other reports at 5 a.m. EST (atmospheric conditions not available for many cities):

_East: Albany, N.Y., 24 snow; Atlanta 44 fog; Boston 33 snow; Buffalo 39 rain; Caribou -5 misty; Charleston, S.C., 48 misty; Chattanooga 46 cloudy; Cincinnati 39 cloudy; Cleveland 35 windy; Detroit 33 cloudy; Hatteras 48 cloudy; Jacksonville 67 cloudy; Key West 73 fair; Knoxville 46 cloudy; Macon 46 misty; Miami 73 partly cloudy; New York 37 rain; Philadelphia 37 windy; Pittsburgh 42 rain; Portland, Maine 23 cloudy; Richmond 39 misty; Tampa 67 misty; Washington 35 cloudy.

_Central: Birmingham 40 cloudy; Bismarck 12 fair; Chicago 32 cloudy; Denver 19 fair; Des Moines 32 misty; Fort Worth 42 cloudy; Galveston 60 windy; Indianapolis 35 cloudy; Kansas City 35 misty; Little Rock 42 cloudy; Louisville 42 rain; Memphis 44 cloudy; Minneapolis-St. Paul 28 haze; Nashville 44 cloudy; New Orleans 60 cloudy; North Platte 10 fair; Oklahoma City 37 cloudy; Omaha 30 misty; Rapid City 15 fair; San Antonio 55 cloudy; St. Louis 35 cloudy.

_West: Albuquerque 33 windy; Anchorage 23 snow; Boise 21 cloudy; Casper 19 windy; Fairbanks 0 cloudy; Great Falls 28 windy; Honolulu 71 fair; Las Vegas 44 fair; Los Angeles 48 fair; Medford 30 snow; Pendleton 30 cloudy; Phoenix 42 partly cloudy; Portland, Ore., 33 cloudy; Reno 15 fair; Salt Lake City 19 fair; San Diego 48 fair; San francisco 39 fair; Seattle 37 cloudy; Spokane 23 cloudy.

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