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San Antonio’s Snowfall Worst in 100 Years

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Associated Press

A winter storm Sunday swept through this city, leaving it virtually paralyzed under more than a foot of snow in what was described as the area’s worst snowstorm in 100 years.

“No snowfall has ever come close to this event” in the last century, the National Weather Service said of the storm system that blanketed south, central and west Texas.

Meanwhile, San Antonio Mayor Henry G. Cisneros asked businesses and schools not to open today until travel becomes less dangerous.

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“If we tried to move a metropolitan area of 1 million people (today), we would almost certainly face severe traffic hazards,” Cisneros said. “I think we can have the city operating again by Tuesday.”

A storm warning continued in effect for south, southwest and parts of west-central Texas, and two more inches of snow is expected in south-central Texas.

But in San Antonio, 13.2 inches of snow fell in the 24 hours ending early Sunday. The city’s record for an entire winter’s snowfall was 7.4 inches, set in 1926.

Major roads connecting San Antonio with other parts of Texas were open but were described as extremely hazardous, and the city’s lack of snow removal equipment promised to keep highways treacherous. “It’s a mess,” said Bo McCarver, a spokesman for the Texas Highway Department.

“One traveler told us it took him 6 1/2 hours to get from San Antonio to Austin, a 90-mile trip,” McCarver said. “We are discouraging any travel--we don’t want people out there.”

Canals of Slush

Many people found their cars mired in their driveways, and streets were canals of slush. “If you’ve got a low-slung car, it will act like a snowplow,” Butch Titus, a San Antonio police spokesman, said.

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Travel remained at a virtual standstill over a vast area of the state, from the far west to near College Station in south-central Texas, and hundreds of motorists were stranded in El Paso and West Texas as well as southern New Mexico, authorities reported.

Travelers’ advisories were also in effect for central and southeast Arizona, and drivers in southwestern Louisiana were warned of ice and sleet, the weather service said.

Freezing precipitation ranged south to Brownsville, near the Mexican border.

300 Accidents in City

More than 300 traffic accidents were reported on snow-covered San Antonio streets Saturday, Frances Barrera, police spokeswoman, said.

Emergency vehicles were being sent to fires and medical emergencies at speeds of 15 m.p.h., Joe Montanez, Fire Department spokesman, said.

In San Angelo, Tex., which had six inches of snow, Blaine Palmer, manager of Palmer Feed & Supply, said the snow and icy roads had forced all traffic to a halt.

Some Businesses Closed

“We’re at a standstill right now,” he said. “The roads are impassable. Nobody’s moving. We’ve had about 3 1/2 inches of snow (Sunday), and it’s still freezing. What we’ve got is slick, slicker than glass.”

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Snowfall amounts recorded included 10 inches at Hondo, nine in Del Rio, four in Midland, three in Austin and two at Victoria and Beeville.

In Austin, some businesses were not planning to open until at least noon today.cq The University of Texas at Austin postponed classes until the afternoon, according to Amy Long, a spokeswoman. Texas A&M; University canceled classes for today.

Ranchers in the Hill Country said their cattle were doing fine, as long as they had feed. “Our biggest problem is keeping the water lines from busting,” Ernest Rendon, spokesman for the Shelton Ranches near Kerrville, said.

“As long as we give them feed they can keep warm through the night,” Rendon said. He added that temperatures at the ranch dropped to 15 degrees Saturday night, but no cattle died.

The National Weather Service urged motorists to carry blankets, sleeping bags, thermal jugs of hot liquids and tire chains in case of weather-related travel problems.

Interstate 10 Closed

Interstate 10 from El Paso through Las Cruces, N. M., and on to the Arizona state line was closed overnight Saturday because of snow and ice but reopened late Sunday morning, New Mexico highway officials said.

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The New Mexico Highway Department also reopened U.S. 70 between Las Cruces and Alamogordo. Department spokesman Joe Healy said travel on Interstate 25 from Las Cruces, which got six inches of snow, to Socorro was being discouraged.

Meanwhile, divers near Pontiac, Mich., on Sunday recovered the body of a snowmobiler who drove his vehicle off ice Friday into open water on Orchard Lake, and broke off until at least today the search for another who drove his vehicle into the icy water of Union Lake on Saturday.

In North Dakota, fierce winds, coupled with arctic cold, pushed wind-chill factors toward 30 degrees below zero.

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