Blizzard conditions hit west Texas

Jan. 4, 2013 at 8:10 AM
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EL PASO, Texas, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Blizzard conditions hampered efforts early Friday to reopen a western Texas section of Interstate 10 that was closed following several crashes, officials said.

The Texas Department of Transportation urged motorists to avoid an area of I-10 between El Paso and Fort Stockton that was closed Thursday in both directions because of weather conditions and the accidents, CNN reported.

Transportation spokeswoman Veronica Beyer said the interstate likely would be closed through the morning hours Friday.

Snowy conditions also closed U.S. Highway 62/180 east of El Paso west to the New Mexico state line, CNN said.

The National Weather Service said mountain areas in western Texas could get up to 8 inches of snow by midday Friday and other areas could have 4-6 inches of snow.

The storm forced the closure of some schools, stores and government buildings in the El Paso area Thursday and interfered with travelers' plans, KTSM-TV, El Paso, reported.

"The weather has had an impact on our flights today. We have seen cancellations and also many delays," Liz Bellegarde, an El Paso International Airport spokeswoman, told KTSM.

Across the nation, winter's cold air and snow was expected to retreat because of a shift in the jet stream, reported.

The jet stream -- high flying, high-velocity winds -- was expected to pull north next week, allowing temperatures to moderate as milder Pacific air takes over.

"Temperatures are likely to swing 15 to 25 degrees above normal or more from a several-day [period] to perhaps a week-or-more period from the northern Rockies, eastward to the interior South and much of the Midwest and at least part of the Northeast," senior meteorologist Paul Pastlelok said.

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