2nd Major US Storm of the Week is Worse Than the Lastby Jana Ritter - Published: 2/26/2013
The second bout of fierce winter weather to swipe states across the US in less than a week is now packing hurricane-force winds and started pummeling across the Great Plains, Monday. The deadly storm is already being blamed for at least two deaths; in Oklahoma when heavy snow caused a roof to collapse on the person inside and in northwest Kansas, where a 21-year-old man was killed when his SUV overturned on an icy patch of road. Not surprisingly, authorities are pleading with people to stay off the roads and again, truck drivers are being stranded everywhere.
Even Amarillo Texas is reporting wind gusts of 75 mph and up to a foot and a half of snow — the most in at least 110 years. Truck drivers from all over the country set up ship at the Petro off I-40 as the second biggest snow storm to ever hit the region, made it's way into town. Even for veteran truckers, the hazardous conditions were too dangerous to risk. "I've been driving trucks 13 to 14 years and I've never been through Texas and seen it like this", says Jim Dreier. "With a livestock wagon it's like pulling a big parachute behind you. In 50 mile an hour winds and icy roads don't make for very good conditions", he adds.
National Guard units set out to help drivers stranded along Interstate 40, but the state said that troopers couldn't get to everyone because of the whiteout and 10-foot snow drifts. While many of the trucks were stuck, other drivers chose to play it safe by staying off the roads and many were left to pass the time as they wait for road conditions to clear. "Sitting in the truck, hanging out, talking on the radio. Walking to the store and talking to some drivers is there. Just kind of hang around," says truck driver Randy Seely.
While authorities closed highways in the Oklahoma panhandle, which was bracing for more than a foot of snow, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has extended a state of emergency from last week. Already, the storm last week dumped more than 14 inches of snow on Wichita, Kansas its second-highest total on record. “This storm has the potential to be more dangerous than last week's storm,” Gov. Brownback said. He also strongly advises drivers to, “Stay off the road unless it's absolutely critical.”
“This is a really nasty blizzard,” said Greg Postel, a meteorologist with The Weather Channel. While it's already left a blanket of snow across Colorado and threatening to dump 6 inches of snow on Chicago through Tuesday, the storm's reach is also extending to the Southeast. The National Weather Service warns it could spawn tornadoes Tuesday in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and the Florida Panhandle.
No one hates these winter storms more than over the road truckers. In addition to the road conditions threatening their very lives, making their deliveries on time becomes impossible. While FedEx said the storm was causing delays for deliveries in 15 states, many US truck drivers are hoping to get back to work as soon as Tuesday afternoon.