The Norman Transcript

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December 20, 2011

Storm moves east through the Panhandle

NORMAN — Vicki Roberts skipped her mail route Monday and prepared to settle in front of the fireplace with a good book as a blizzard moved into the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Up to 18 inches of snow was forecast in Cimarron and western Texas counties by the National Weather Service.

Five counties neighboring the Panhandle were under a winter storm watch with 3 to 12 inches of precipitation forecast. Rain fell in Norman on Monday and was expected to continue across the rest of the state Monday.

Water gathered in low spots across Cleveland County on Monday, by 8 p.m. the bulk of the rain had moved out of the area, according to the National Weather Service radar.

The snow started falling around 8 a.m. in Kenton, where Roberts owns a bed and breakfast, and by early evening had caused the Oklahoma High Patrol to shut down two of the four major routes out of Boise City in Cimarron County.

“We shut down U.S. 56 westbound out of Boise City due to blizzard conditions and for humanitarian reasons,” OHP dispatcher Pat Barton said.

“They have no hotel rooms or shelter spaces all the way Clayton, (N.M.),” about 45 miles to the southwest, Barton said.

U.S. 287 north out of Boise City also was shut down because of numerous accidents on the snow-slickened road, Barton said.

No serious injuries were reported.

The OHP also said U.S. Highway 54 from Guymon, one of two major roadways through the region’s largest city, into the Texas Panhandle was closed because of slick roads.

Roberts, the owner of Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast, said when she peered outside, she couldn’t even see the nearby mesa, which at 4,973 feet is the highest point in Oklahoma.

The state was expected to be walloped by a storm just days before winter starts and the Christmas travel rush begins. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the Panhandle, and forecasters said up to 16 inches of precipitation could fall before the storm departs today.

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