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Record Thanksgiving snow blankets city


Teddy Romero takes cover under an umbrella from the snow as he retrieves his newspaper in Northeast Albuquerque.Thursday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

You’ve never seen a Thanksgiving like that before.

The Albuquerque area shattered the previous record for snowfall in what was the snowiest Thanksgiving in the city’s history.

And it wasn’t even close.

By mid-day Thursday, there had been 3.9 inches recorded at the Albuquerque International Sunport, which is the city’s official climate site, said Alyssa Clements, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

That measurement far surpassed what had been the previous snowiest Thanksgiving, which was way back in 1934 when the city had 1.5 inches of snow on Thanksgiving, she said.

“We’re easily going to set a new record for Thanksgiving day,” Clements said.

Matthew Chavez takes the kickoff and looks for open space as he and his friends play a game of touch football at Johnson Field on the University of New Mexico’s campus. The group of friends play a game there every Thanksgiving. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

And the airport’s reading was actually one of the lower snowfall accumulations recorded in the city, Clements said.

The entire city was blanketed with 4 to 6 inches of snow. Several places on the West Side recorded 7 inches, she said.

The area around Academy and Tramway had a whopping 8 inches of snowfall by Thanksgiving afternoon. That was the highest recording in city limits.

The last time Albuquerque had a white Thanksgiving was in 2010, when there was a paltry-by-comparison 0.3 of an inch of snow.

Clements said other areas in the state also saw lots of snow.

Sandia Park had between 10 and 12 inches of snow, Glorieta had over 9 inches and Santa Fe had between 6 and 8 inches.

Despite the high amount of snowfall throughout the state, roads conditions stayed relatively good throughout the day. By Thursday afternoon, the New Mexico Department of Transportation had upgraded driving conditions from difficult to fair.


Snow blanked the Albuquerque area on Thanksgiving Day. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Despite the fair driving conditions, the DOT kept dozens of maintenance patrols out to clear slush from the roads in 12-hour shifts throughout the day and into the night, said Kim Gallegos, a DOT spokeswoman.

“We have a lot of slush we’re getting off the shoulders because we’re worried about night-time temperatures dropping and another system moving in,” Gallegos said late Thursday afternoon. “There’s always a chance for black ice when temperatures drop and that’s why our guys are going to continue their shifts.”

How were some usual Thanksgiving traditions affected by the record-breaking snowfall?

On the University of New Mexico’s main campus, an annual touch football game soldiered on despite the snow.

Matthew Chavez and a group of his friends said they had played a game of football on Thanksgiving at Johnson Field for years, and they were seen playing the game amid the flurries on Thursday morning.

Albuquerque’s runners, who had signed up for several races throughout the metro area, had their fun canceled. All the turkey trots in Albuquerque and Rio Rancho were called off because of the snow.

“In the 35-plus years that we’ve held this race, participants have run in all kinds of weather. We’ve been closely following the weather for the last couple of days and had hoped this tradition could continue,” the race director of the Albuquerque Turkey Trot posted on Facebook.”But, the safety of participants, spectators, volunteers, and contractors is our first priority and we’ve been advised to cancel the run.”

It seemed even most shoppers decided to stay inside or play in the snow, skipping the chilly lines usually trailing around box store buildings.

Donald Garcia clears the snow off his truck in Northeast Albuquerque.

A handful of bundled up customers waited outside for the 5 p.m. opening of a Best Buy near Coors and Ellison. Someone built itty bitty snowmen on top of guard rails that were set up outside, and one man – the first in line – reclined in a camping chair.

At a Target on Paseo Del Norte near Interstate 25, about five cars idled in the parking lot while people waited to nab their door-buster deals.

Clements said Thursday afternoon that another storm was heading for the Albuquerque area, expecting to bring both rain and snow overnight.

The snowfall was welcomed by anyone who celebrated Thanksgiving on skis.

On Thanksgiving day, Ski Santa Fe reported 7 inches in the previous 24 hours, Taos Ski Valley had 5 inches, Sipapu had 3 inches and Red River Ski & Summer Area had an inch.

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