Second round of heavy snow in Plains, Midwest; 2 dead

Lubbock, Texas (AP) - The nation's midsection again dealt with blizzard conditions Monday, closing highways, knocking out power to thousands in Texas and Oklahoma and even bringing hurricane-force winds to the Texas Panhandle. Two people have died.

Already under a deep snowpack from last week's storm, Kansas was preparing for another round of heavy snow Monday evening and overnight, prompting some to wonder what it could do for the drought.

"Is it a drought-buster? Absolutely not," National Weather Service meteorologist Victor Murphy said. "Will it bring short-term improvement? Yes."

The storm is being blamed for two deaths on Monday. In northwest Kansas, a 21-year-old man's SUV hit an icy patch on Interstate 70 and overturned. And in the northwest town of Woodward, Okla., heavy snow caused a roof to collapse, killing one inside the home.

Earlier on Monday, blizzard warnings extended from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles into south-central Kansas. The blizzard warnings were dropped Monday evening for the far western portion of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles.

Meanwhile to the east, lines of thunderstorms crossed Arkansas, Louisiana and Florida, bringing heavy rain and an occasional tornado warning.

As many as 10,000 people lost power in Oklahoma, as did thousands more in Texas.

Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Daniel Hawthorne said about a dozen motorists had to be rescued, but no one was injured. The National Weather Service in Lubbock reported at one point that as many as 100 vehicles were at a standstill on Interstate 27.

Extremely strong winds whipped around at least a foot or more of snow in the Texas Panhandle, and a hurricane-force gust of 75 mph was recorded at the Amarillo airport. Amarillo recorded the biggest snowfall total in Texas - 19 inches, just short of the record of 19.3 - while Fritch was second with 16.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol closed all highways in the Panhandle and much of the state's northwest because of blizzard conditions. Trooper Betsy Randolph said several dozen motorists have reported being stranded or have abandoned their vehicles.

Chris McBee, a storm chaser, got stuck outside Woodward in northwest Oklahoma in the mid-afternoon. By then, the city was leading Oklahoma's snow totals with 15 inches of snow.

"We were planning to go back to Oklahoma City tonight, but the road was just impassable," McBee told The Associated Press. "You couldn't see 50 feet in front of you." A man with a bulldozer dug out McBee's vehicle.

"He's just helping people," McBee said, adding he assumed the man was still out there. "We tried to pay him and he refused."

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