Fire officials from Lubbock, Texas, help put out smoldering debris of a home destroyed by the Smokehouse Creek Fire, Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024, in Stinnett, Texas. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Blizzard buries California’s mountain towns, hail hits the South and Texas wildfire still not fully contained

In the first few months of 2024, unprecedented weather patterns continue striking North America. A fierce blizzard shut down California mountain towns and ski resorts, Yosemite National Park was shut down, while portions of Nevada and Utah were also affected from Feb. 29 – March 1.

Yosemite National Park reopened with caution on March 3, with park officials stating on Facebook, “Expect snowy conditions throughout the park, tire chains may be required for vehicles and to check road conditions.” More than 50,000 customers in Northern California and Nevada had lost electricity, reported Forecasters warned people to stay indoors, with a high risk of avalanches in the backcountry mountains of Eastern Sierra Nevada.

“The strong winds and weight of snow on tree limbs may down power lines and could cause sporadic power outages. Travel could be very difficult,” stated the National Weather Service.

Within 24 hours, wind gusts of 190 miles per hour and 10 feet of snow, made travel nearly impossible. More than 70 miles of Interstate 80 along Northern California to the Nevada state line were closed from the night of February 20 until the morning of March 4.


Interstate 80 at Donner Pass, the primary major thoroughfare in the region that crosses the Sierra, was shut down for three days and reopened the morning of March 4. Crews rescued between 100 and 200 drivers who became stuck and stranded at the pass as conditions deteriorated. Some drivers were forced to sleep in their vehicles.

“In the South Lake Tahoe area, where three to five feet of snow fell, a snow slide trapped vehicles and briefly shut down Highway 50 in California March 3. There were no injuries reported and crews quickly reopened the road,” reported

One resort, Alpine Peak at Palisades Tahoe, registered wind gusts on March 2 of 171 miles per hour, with gusts nearby topping 140 mph on March 3, forcing it to close.

The Sugar Bowl Ski Resort located near Donner Peak recorded 10.5 feet of snow from March 1-4. In 24 hours from early March 3 to the morning of March 4, three feet of snow accumulated. Soda Springs reported more than nine feet, Kingvale had over eight feet and Dodge Ridge saw seven feet over the same period.

The severe winter storm conditions in Northern California even damaged and knocked out pieces of equipment crews were using to clear roadways of snow, California Department of  Transportation officials said in a post on X (formerly Twitter).

According to data from the California Department of Water Resources, California’s snow water equivalent is at 104 percent of its average for March 4 and 94 percent of its April 1 average, when snowpack is typically at its peak. On February 28, before the storm arrived, the snow water equivalent was 81 percent of the average for the date. In early January, the measure was only at 28 percent.

Meanwhile, in the South, forecasts of thunderstorms were raising concerns. reported that a​ multi-day threat of severe storms in the South could produce tornadoes, large hail, and wind damage from Texas into the Southeast states through March 9. The website also noted that flooding concerns were also growing in parts of the region and the stormy setup could produce heavy rainfall over already saturated ground.

Severe storms from this system were predicted to develop by the night of March 7 in the Southern Plains, especially from central Texas into western and northern Oklahoma and south-central Kansas. Large hail could be the biggest concern from those storms, damaging wind gusts or an isolated tornado threat could not be ruled out, reported.

“Areas from eastern Texas and southeast Oklahoma to much of Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle were forecast to have the greatest chance of severe storms.

Damaging winds, large hail, and a few tornadoes would be potential concerns. The threat could last through and impact some areas, particularly Mississippi and Alabama. Parts of Georgia, southeast Alabama, northern Florida and the Carolinas were also forecast to see severe storms.

“The strong to severe storms might be ongoing early in the morning in Alabama, western Georgia and the Florida Panhandle before spreading eastward through the daytime. Wind damage, hail and isolated tornadoes are all possible,” warned

And while, according to multiple news outlets, power lines sparked the huge wildfires across the Texas Panhandle, the record-setting blaze has destroyed homes and killed thousands of livestock, officials said on March 8, according to the Associated Press.

It is the largest blaze in the state’s history that the utility provider Xcel Energy said its equipment appeared to have sparked, AP reported. Nevertheless, the blaze prompted evacuations in a handful of small communities, destroyed as many as 500 structures and killed at least two people.

Containment levels have been increasing—the Smokehouse Creek fire was 74 percent contained by March 8 while the Windy Deuce fire was 89 percent contained. But the Forest Service warned that high winds were expected to be moving across the dry landscape, increasing fire danger.

According to, more than 7,000 cows died in Texas Panhandle wildfires, causing a “total wipeout” for many local ranchers and taking a significant toll on the region’s agricultural industry.

“The state has yet to get all the counts of lost cattle in the fires,” the news site reported, adding that the 7,000 death toll does not include cattle that will have to be euthanized due to their injuries. More than one million acres of land have burned up in the fires, including the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the largest wildfire in Texas history, the network reported.

According to a local rancher, interviewed by, the loss also comes as a one-two punch for many farmers because many of them who raise cattle also grow cotton, but they have missed those cotton crops for the last two years. “In September, the Texas Farm Bureau reported that drought and high temperatures caused the diminished cotton crops,” the website noted.

“The ground is toast,” Ricky Yantis, a farmer from Lamb County about 100 miles south of Amarillo, told the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network, adding the heat seemed “more intense” last year and brought “hot winds,” continued.

“The dryland cotton is blistered and burned,” he said. “A lot of the crop is turning brown and dying. I’ve never seen it get to this point.”

While weather and climate scientists placed the blame on global warming, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Eternal Leader of the Nation of  Islam, taught for decades that what is unfolding is the work of Allah (God). 

“God is at work: You can call it ‘global warming,’” said the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s National Representative, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, in episode 53 of his online lecture series, “The Time and What Must Be Done,” delivered in 2013.

“God is able to warm it. He is able to cool it. For He is The Master over all that makes the ‘heat’ or ‘cooling,’” Minister Farrakhan said, describing God’s unlimited Might. “He is able to freeze it. He is able to make it liquid. He is in power today,” the Minister said.

He explained from his teacher’s words that “the force and power” that God is now using on America and throughout the Earth is punishment as well as mercy. “Let a few of them suffer from these Forces,” said Minister Farrakhan. This is to let people know in “real time,” that God has the power to take life, so that the rest of them may fall in line.

“This is why He is bringing these calamities on you ‘little by little,’ so that you may reason with His Servant that is talking to you now, and perhaps this can be avoided,” the Minister said.

He and his teacher cautioned that God is angry at America’s long and sordid history of injustice, persecution and oppression, mainly directed at the Black once slave. In his pivotal book, “The Fall of America” published in 1973, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote that God would deploy rain, hail, snow and earthquakes to chastise and break the power of America.

“We see them now covering all sides of America, as the Holy Qur’an prophesies curtailing on all her sides,” wrote the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad.

Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected].