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Winds prompt health alert, shutdown of dust causing activities

Blowing dust has prompted the city of Albuquerque to issue a health alert. (Roberto E. Rosales/Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Forecast “red flag” sustained winds approaching 45 mph with gusts as high as 75 mph prompted the city of Albuquerque to issue a health alert Wednesday morning through midnight and ordered all construction or businesses that might generate dust to shut down immediately.

The National Weather Service said the winds were making travel very difficult on north-south oriented roads such as Interstate 25, particularly for high-profile vehicles, and warned that winds could cause loose objects to become airborne.

The city warned residents sensitive to particulate matter, like asthma, chronic bronchitis and other respiratory and heart diseases, to avoid or limit outdoor activity.

The shutdown notice — authorized by city ordinance on Fugitive Dust Control — noted that “it is MANDATORY during a high wind event that all active operations that are capable of producing fugitive dust be stopped.”

The active operations that must stop include earth moving, trenching, blading, scraping, clearing, detonation and demolition activities, movement of motorized vehicles on any unpaved roadway or surface, according to the city’s website.

White Sands National Monument closed the road into the sand dunes into Thursday because of blowing sand. The monument’s visitor center and gift shop remained open to the public.

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