Thursday, March 26, 2009

Only in the Panhandle, right?

This must be the Texas Panhandle's version of bracing for a hurricane. Batten down the hatches, the blizzard is coming Friday, and even if forecasters are miss it by 50 percent, it could still be a doozy.

OK, it was a record in the mid-80s a couple of weeks ago. At 6 p.m. this evening when you get home from work, the sun will be shining. It will be 66 degrees with west winds at a moderate 15 mph.

And when you get ready for work in the morning, be glad if your car was in the garage. It should be 28 degrees with heavy snow and winds from the north at 30 mph. The wind chill factor will be 12 degrees. It is expected to snow all day.

We are already in a blizzard warning, and we don't get too many of those. Forecasts call for six inches of snow in the Amarillo area and up to a foot in northern Panhandle and into Oklahoma.

But the vibes I'm getting is people don't seem to dread the approaching storm, and may actually welcome it. We need moisture so badly that many will take it in any form. And then there's the curiousity factor of just how much snow, how bad will it really get, just five days from April.

As a friend of mine pointed out Wednesday, forecasters can point to high pressure systems or moist air steaming down from the Rockies and all that, but the real reason is the Amarillo Relays. The huge track meet, scheduled for this weekend at Dick Bivins Stadium, attracts bad weather like moths to a light bulb.

More times than not, it's plagued by bad weather. It will sunny and warm until right before the meet, and then sunny and warm right after. The Amarillo Relays, like any outdoor event this weekend, is scrambling.

"The National Weather Service said it's going to be bad, like four- to six-foot drifts," said Amarillo ISD assistant athletic director Alan Hunnicutt. "Friday is canceled obviously, and Saturday it just depends on what it looks like at the stadium. I'd say Saturday is 50-50 or even 75-25 we cancel, but that decision won't be made until sometime Friday."

And on Sunday, the high will be 70 degrees. Only in the Panhandle.

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