Covered in snow and tree limbs
By Robin Scott
Wednesday’s winter storm dumped more than six inches of heavy wet snow over Dallam and Hartley Counties. The storm that began early Wednesday with a light rain turned to snow by early afternoon. By midnight, several inches of snow and ice covered the area, causing numerous motor vehicle accidents and fender benders.
The weather reports that began on Monday predicted the second snowstorm in several days. The reports varied from one to two inches of snow to nearly a foot. The reports since the storm rolled through the area confirmed that some areas did received nearly a foot of snow.
This most recent weather system came without any notable wind. The wet snow fell straight down, covering branches and power lines on its way to the ground. The result was good in that there weren’t huge snowdrifts, but the heavy tree limbs are a continuing hazard. Early Thursday morning as area residents ventured outside to assess the severity of the storm, they learned that tree branches had fallen everywhere.
Dalhart City Manager Greg Duggan noted on Thursday, “The biggest problem we had from the last storm was from people plowing their driveways and parking lots. They’ve put the snow into the street and it causes problems because as the snow melts and the water builds up it isn’t able to drain.” Duggan added, “There’s no problem if people will put the snow in a pile in their yard or parking lot. Otherwise, the water has no place to go.”
Late Wednesday evening, city employees worked diligently downtown to clear the drains and snow piles that had become like dams blocking the water flow. Duggan stated, “We have every piece of equipment and every employee out now working on the situation.” He noted that the snow piles that block the streets and thus the melting snow create another hazard. He stated, “The water backs up and creates a huge problem. It freezes and it becomes a frozen hazard for everyone.”
Over on 3rd Street and Jefferson, a water main burst. Duggan stated, “It’s caused because of the ground freezing and then thawing, it’s the heating up of the ground, up and down. It causes the pipes to crack. The expansion causes the crack.” City employees were able to repair the water leak early Thursday, but, Duggan added, “In this kind of weather trying to find the valves to shut off the water is difficult because it’s so cold, and they have to get down into the water to stop the leak.”
One known power outage occurred in Pueblo Place Wednesday evening from approximately 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., affecting 300 customers. Duggan added, “It’s very possible there will be more where there are big tree limbs that are heavy and may fall into power lines.” Duggan encourages residents to remove down limbs. He stated, “We don’t go onto private property at all. If the limbs are in the street or in the alley the city will pick them up. Residents may cut them up to where they are manageable and then take them to the curb or alley. They may also take them to the landfill free of charge.”
Many people have contacted the city with questions and requests about plowing in the residential areas. Duggan commented, “We can’t get into the residential areas, and I know people do not understand why. We have 50 miles of street and no place to put the snow. If the plows went through residential areas, they would only block driveways. It has always been the policy in the panhandle to plow the main thoroughfares and get to the wells. And, we have to get the airport cleared.” With every city employee, about 20, which includes those who are working on getting rid of the backed up water, manpower is limited.
Unfortunately, because of the overall limited amount of snowfall in the area, the city is not able to purchase a large amount of equipment and the manpower to operate it. Duggan added, “We can’t buy a whole bunch of equipment and hire a lot of people for the occasional storm, and clearing in the residential areas causes its own set of problems.” The city employees that tirelessly work to get the city back to normal after a storm all deserve thanks, according to Duggan, who noted, “Our guys work hard and work long hours and do a good job.” Their work due to this most recent storm will last for days.
Note: A Youtube video is available from the Texan showing scenes from the recent snow; February 3-4-2010 Snow