AMARILLO — Some roadways in the Texas Panhandle reopened Tuesday as sunny conditions began to thaw ice and snow-packed surfaces slickened by a massive blizzard that blanketed the region.
Interstate 27 reopened between snow-hammered Amarillo and Lubbock, about 120 miles to the south, but units with the Texas National Guard were still working to clear Interstate 40 from the Oklahoma border to the New Mexico state line. The interstate is open within Amarillo’s city limits.
U.S. 287 reopened in both directions, as did U.S. 385, U.S. 60 and U.S. 54. But stretches of Highway 87 in the Dalhart and Dumas areas remained closed.
State troopers, area sheriff’s offices and National Guard members rescued 32 stranded motorists from their vehicles Monday, Department of Public Safety spokesman Daniel Hawthorne said. Some workers have been stuck at the National Weather Service office in Amarillo since Sunday night after snow drifts up to 6 feet high covered their cars in the parking lot, said meteorologist Krissy Scotten.
Crews were working to clear snow from still-closed roadways although they need sunshine to activate the de-icing agent, Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Paul Braun said. Temperatures in the Amarillo area are expected to reach the mid-30s on Tuesday.
“It’s going to be kind of a delayed process, a very involved process,” he said.
A spokesman at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, David Sebastian, said the flights won’t depart until runways can be cleared, likely by midday Tuesday. James Loomis, executive director at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport, said flights resumed late Monday, though travelers on Southwest should call the airline as it has experienced some delays.
City offices in Amarillo were closed Tuesday and the city’s school district canceled classes for a second day. Classes at many schools in Lubbock started late.
Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves said just 24 customers remained without power in Amarillo on Tuesday morning, down from 8,600 customers in New Mexico and Texas who were without power during the blizzard.