October surpr-ice: Winter Storm Billy slams region

Winter Storm Billy knocked out power to much of the region Oct. 26-28. PHOTO COURTESY OF SOUTH PLAINS ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE

Region recovers from arctic blast; 46K without power across state last week 

LIZ ADAMS | THE CAPROCK COURIER

Parts of Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma are still recovering from the freezing rain that began last Monday from an unusually early winter storm that resulted in icy fallen tree limbs and power outages throughout the week. KLBK reported by Thursday morning that there were nearly 46,000 homes or businesses statewide without power, most in the South Plains, Panhandle or Texoma regions of the state.

During what the Weather Channel called Winter Storm Billy, ice on the roads caused dangerous conditions leading to a number of traffic accidents. Grocery stores, gas stations and other businesses were closed for days in Silverton and other areas. Several Halloween events were cancelled, though Paducah, Guthrie, and Memphis were able to hold events as planned. 

Lighthouse Electric Cooperative member services assistant Mike Green said as of Nov. 2 the co-op had 100 linemen working in the 12 counties they serve. “Over 800 poles are broken. This is probably the worst ice storm we’ve seen because the damage is so widespread,” said Green. 

Lynn Simmons, director of communications for South Plains Electric Cooperative, said that power had been restored to all of their residential customers as of 6 p.m. Sunday. “We will begin working on our oil and irrigation load this week,” said Simmons.  

Schools in Briscoe, Hall, Motley, Cottle and King counties experienced delays and closures due to the weather and power outages. Remote learning and meal service were suspended for Silverton ISD, though meal service resumed on Monday. Students were able to return to Valley on Thursday and Friday, though power was still out for some in Quitaque. In Memphis, school was delayed, then closed on Tuesday and again on Wednesday. Though the school day was delayed, students were able to compete in the cross-country meet that had been rescheduled for Thursday. 

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