The Great Texas Snowplow Slander

 

TEXARKANA, TX — Charles Peek, a storm chaser and field reporter for the Weather Channel, is the drone videographer of a video shot looking down State Line Ave. in Texarkana that depicts what many on Twitter claim is a display of either incompetence by Texas officials, lack of charity by Arkansas officials, or both.

The north-south street located in the middle of Texarkana is the dividing line between Texas and Arkansas. The center stripe is the state line. In the video taken Feb. 16, snowplows had already cleared the Arkansas side, but the Texas side remained slippery and snow covered.

Texas experienced the coldest week in generations starting Valentine’s Day evening when a winter storm named Uri dropped down from the north and blanketed the entire state with snow and ice and frigid temperatures in the single digits. The Texas power grid was taxed, municipal water systems broke down, and Texans endured days of extreme cold temperatures and some went without running water for days. Arkansas experienced the same weather, but its power grid held up better.

But now, it seems, just as Texas is reeling from the embarrassing failure of its electric power grid, some on Twitter want to further insult Texans for deploying inadequate snowplow capacity.

Field Walsh, publisher of TXKToday.com, the San Angelo LIVE! of Texarkana, said when he saw the video pop up on Twitter he knew he had a big story. He rushed out to State Line Ave. on Feb. 16 with his drone to get his own footage.

“By the time I got there, the Texas snow plows had already plowed the Texas side,” Walsh said, expressing his disappointment. “The Texas side was plowed right after the Arkansas side.”

On the left is the Arkansas side of Texarkana; on the right is the unplowed Texas side. Taken from Charles Peek's drone footage on Twitter

On the left is the Arkansas side of Texarkana; on the right is the unplowed Texas side. Taken from Charles Peek's drone footage on Twitter

This photo taken the morning of Feb. 19 shows both sides were eventually cleared of snow and ice.

This photo taken the morning of Feb. 19 shows both sides were eventually cleared of snow and ice. 

Peek said he was at the location packing up for about 30 minutes after filming the footage and didn’t see any snowplows on the Texas side. They must have arrived later. Walsh said the Texas side was definitely plowed the same day as the Arkansas side. He didn't know when Peek filmed his video that day.

"Look, both sides of the state line got hammered by this storm," Walsh said.

In the photo below, taken by Walsh on Feb. 18 at 11 a.m., Texas is on the right and Arkansas is on the left. This is State Line Ave. about 2 miles from where Peek's Feb. 16 video was filmed. You can clearly see that it is the Texas side that is already plowed and the re-purposed road grader used as a snowplow by Arkansas is just arriving.

This drone photo was taken 2 days later 2 miles up State Line from where Peek filmed the infamous Feb. 16 video. The Arkansas road-grader repurposed as a snow plow was just arriving. On this section of the road, Arkansas was late plowing.

This drone photo was taken 2 days later 2 miles up State Line from where Peek filmed the infamous Feb. 16 video. The Arkansas road-grader repurposed as a snow plow was just arriving. On this section of the road, Arkansas was late plowing.

The visuals Peek posted on Twitter evoked scorn for Texas being a state led by incompetent Republican politicians and denouncements of Arkansas snowplow operators for not lending a hand to snowbound and electricity-challenged Texas by plowing the Texas side of the state, too. Arkansas snowplow operators were not good neighbors, some claimed.

Walsh said the whole narrative is “bullshit.” He’s been reporting the news in and around Texarkana for nearly 8 years and knows his beat.

Some on Twitter claimed the State of Texas only has 30 snowplows. The number is decidedly untrue. According to the New York Post, the Texas Department of Transportation told them it has 700 snowplows statewide.

A TxDOT spokesman confirmed Walsh’s words, and told the Post that the Texas side was plowed shortly after the Arkansas snowplows cleared its side.

The image the video depicts didn’t tell the entire story; neither do sanctimonious Twitter users who are uncurious and too quick to make judgments.

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