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Links for Thursday, December 31, 2015:

NewsObituariesTown TalkBlizzard 2015

Blizzard 2015 shuts down the county

The stories are many. Of 10-foot snow drifts, blocked driveways, closed highways, and stranded travelers. Friona won the top prize for most snow in the Panhandle's Blizzard of 2015 sweepstakes. It is reported we received 20" of snow. Drifts were up to 8-10 feet. Creative newscasters named the storm Goliath.

It began Saturday December 26 about 6:00 p.m. with 40-60 mph winds and blowing snow. The blizzard continued most of the day Sunday December 27. Highway 60 was closed from Hereford to the New Mexico line. Highway 287 from Childress to Amarillo and I-40 from the Oklahoma line through to New Mexico was also closed for a time.

Many travelers did not heed the warnings and became stranded on area highways. Emergency personnel and law enforcement were not able to reach them until Monday. Many remained in their vehicles up to 24 hours. Friona Inn manager Dee Bhakta said their rooms were filled Saturday and Sunday. Some travelers spent the night in their vehicles in the motel parking lot she said.

Monday morning Sheriff Randy Geries and his deputies along with DPS troopers and Friona volunteer firemen headed out east, west, and south to check on stranded vehicles. They took water and food and brought some people back to the First Baptist Church in Friona. Many vehicles were stuck in a bottleneck near Black where the highway was impassable.

A report from the DPS office in Amarillo said State National Guard units working on Hwy 60 westbound from Hereford assisted 8 vehicles in getting out of the snow and transported 39 stranded motorists in Parmer County east of Friona near the community of Black. Several more motorists were stranded between Friona and the New Mexico state line but because of high snow drifts and stranded vehicles blocking the road, the Guard units were not able to get past Friona.

The DPS helicopter performed an air sight assessment of the area Monday morning and reported there were 25 vehicles stranded in the road between Black and Friona.

City manager Patricia Phipps said city employees worked to clear streets near the hospital and nursing home. Fortunately it was a quiet weekend for emergency ambulance calls.

dana jameson photo
This photo pretty much sums up the news about the 2015 blizzard. This Sweet Bran semi- was one of several that got stuck turning off of Hwy 214 onto westbound 5th St. Good samaritans were abundant over the weekend as Friona received 20" of blowing snow with 5-10 foot drifts. Many private citizens took their time to find and help out stuck or stranded drivers. Others picked up hospital personnel and drove them to work. TxDOT graded Hwy 60 and 5th St. causing more piles of snow blocking side streets and parking lots.

courtesy photo
Goliath Blizzard 2015. This great photo was posted on Facebook. It is on 14th Street in front of the Cottonwood Apartments. They are trying to dig out vehicles and clear doorways and the street for the apartment residents.