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A storm system that prompted a blizzard warning for Albuquerque and dumped snow over most of northern and central New Mexico on Friday is leaving very cold air in its wake that will keep most areas near or below freezing into next week.
The Albuquerque area is expected to have low temperatures of 10 or 11 degrees this morning and 8 or 9 degrees Sunday morning.
High temperatures will be 29 or 30 degrees in the Albuquerque area today and 31 or 32 degrees on Sunday. The wind chill will make it feel even colder.
That also means any snow on the ground will likely stick around for several days and continue to play havoc with some roads, according to Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
“Our temperatures through the rest of the weekend are going to stay quite cold in areas – freezing or below freezing in a majority of the area,” Jones said. “Snow that has fallen is not going to be melting. Roads that are under snowpack conditions will be slow to improve.”
Crews on standby
City crews who worked to keep city streets clear during Friday’s storm will remain on standby to respond to changing street conditions during the weekend, according to Johnny Chandler, spokesman for Albuquerque’s Municipal Development Department.
“We’re focusing on salt, cinder and ice and hitting any trouble spots, starting with the major arteries and collector streets,” Chandler said. “The roads this time of year can be quite deceiving – it looks clear and then before you know it, there’s black ice.”
New Mexico Gas Co. said it does not anticipate any problems supplying gas to customers around the state during the prolonged cold weather, spokesman Tim Korte told the Journal.
“We use short-term and long-term forecasting models to monitor the anticipated weather, and then we adjust our gas supplies accordingly,” Korte said. “We have storage facilities in West Texas and production access in the San Juan Basin and Permian Basin. We watch the weather to make sure we can meet anticipated customer demand.”
Higher-elevation areas of northern New Mexico could have temperatures below zero today and Sunday. The low in Angel Fire was expected to be 16 degrees below zero this morning and 22 degrees below Sunday morning.
Another winter storm is expected to bring up to several inches of new snow accumulation from the high plains of eastern New Mexico westward to the Arizona border Monday night through Tuesday night. Lighter amounts of snow will be possible in counties along New Mexico’s eastern border.
Thursday’s and Friday’s storm dumped heavy snow on some parts of Albuquerque, while other areas received little.
Snow totals ranged widely in Albuquerque during the 21-hour period that ended at 2 p.m. Friday, from 8 inches observed from a spotter at Modesto and Holbrook NE to just one-tenth of an inch at Candelaria and Rio Grande NW. The Albuquerque International Sunport received 1.2 inches of snow.
ABQ ‘snow hole’
According to Jones, the Albuquerque “snow hole” is to blame for the variety of snow accumulations.
“Anytime you get a deep low-pressure system west of Albuquerque, you get cold air coming down the eastern part of New Mexico,” Jones said. “When the gap winds come from the east side of Albuquerque, it’s downhill to the river and then it’s uphill to the west side of the river. We get crazy variability when it comes to snowfall. It’s just the nature of what we deal with.”
Snowfall in Rio Rancho ranged from 1 inch at Southern and Unser NE to 3 inches at Kim and Idalia NE.
Elsewhere, wind gusts of more than 40 mph were reported by spotters at Modesto and Holbrook NE, near Carnuel and at the Sunport.
The storm affected business hours at cities around New Mexico, prompted cancellation of many early flights out of the Sunport and caused widespread power failures and dangerous driving conditions.
Lobo flight canceled
The University of New Mexico women’s basketball team could not make it to California on Friday, because its flight was canceled. The scheduled game today at Long Beach State was canceled.
Interstate 40 was shut down east of Albuquerque in different sections for most of the day into the evening due to severe weather. N.M. 536 from Sandia Park to Sandia Crest was also closed Friday. Difficult driving conditions were reported on numerous highways, including I-40 west of Albuquerque, Interstate 25, U.S. 550, N.M. 14, N.M. 528 and N.M. 337.
Kirtland Air Force Base was closed for all but mission-essential personnel.
The Albuquerque Police Department’s Foothills Substation on Lomas NE was closed because of the weather, and police were discouraging residents from driving on streets east of Eubank.
For the latest road conditions in New Mexico, call 511 or 800-432-4269 or visit nmroads.com.
Journal staff writer Jessica Dyer contributed to this story.