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Major blizzard from NM to Mo

Up to 18 inches of snow causes havoc in multiple states

KANSAS CITY, MO | December 20, 2011

A blizzard blamed for seven deaths pounded a 1,000-mile-wide area from New Mexico and Texas to Colorado and Missouri Tuesday with as much as 18 inches of snow.

Whiteout conditions and below-zero wind-chill temperature readings prompted officials to close dozens of roads, including long stretches of major Interstates in parts of New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and Kansas due to near-zero visibility, officials said.

In eastern Colorado, a Corrections Corp. of America van carrying two guards and nine prisoners rolled over on icy Interstate 70 between Genoa and Limon, killing a guard and an inmate, the Colorado State Patrol said. Eight other inmates and a prison employee were hospitalized with moderate to serious injuries, police said.

Weather was also blamed for the deaths of five people, including two children, when a small plane crashed Monday night in central Texas near the community of Edge, KBTX-TV, Bryan/College Station, Texas, reported. Troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety said the plane, which had departed from Atlanta, made a stop in Jackson, Miss., before heading toward Waco, Texas.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry activated state military personnel and equipment to protect Panhandle roads and communities, his office said. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for several Texas counties, with 6 inches of snow expected in some places and wind gusts to 50 mph.

The Great Plains region from New Mexico to Kansas and northwestern Missouri was expected to receive 4 to 8 inches of snow Tuesday, with isolated pockets getting as much as a foot.

Many schools and some businesses were expected to be closed across the region Tuesday. Airlines advised passengers to call ahead due to probable flight delays and cancellations.

As much as 18 inches of snow collapsed roofs in western New Mexico's Cibola County Monday, officials said.

The storm, which nosed into Ohio Tuesday, was forecast to change to rain by late morning, causing occasionally heavy rain over most Ohio River Valley states and the southern Great Lakes area into Wednesday, AccuWeather said.

Part of the same storm system may bring substantial snow over the interior Northeast this weekend -- and could boomerang and bring light snow Christmas Eve from Chicago and Milwaukee to Detroit and Cleveland, AccuWeather said.

Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

All rights reserved.

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