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High winds create havoc; cold front to drop temps

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A man surveys the damage after a tree fell on a carport at Park Plaza Condominiums, near 14th and Central SW. High winds caused property damage and power outages across Albuquerque on Tuesday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico could have freezing temperatures and even snow this week, after a Labor Day weekend of scorching temperatures.

And gusty winds could continue with this week’s cold front. The 40-mph winds on Tuesday prompted Albuquerque to issue a health alert for blowing dust.

The winds also toppled trees and caused power outages across the city. More than 12,000 customers were without power at around 9 p.m. Tuesday, according to PNM. And Lovelace Medical Center said Tuesday that its COVID-19 drive-through testing site would be closed Wednesday after wind damaged its tents.

Wednesday will be the coldest day of the week. Albuquerque’s high temperatures will drop nearly 30 degrees from Tuesday, with a forecast high of 54 degrees and low of 41 degrees.

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The railroad crossing at Lomas and 1st was damaged by high winds Tuesday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Many areas of New Mexico could set records for their earliest freeze, said Todd Shoemake, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Albuquerque office. Low temperatures will be 30 to 40 degrees below normal for mid-September.

“With the much colder temperatures, you look at wind chill factors in many places, and it will feel pretty brisk out there,” Shoemake said.

Raton, Las Vegas, Chama, Taos and Angel Fire could all dip below freezing Wednesday.

Snow is possible on Wednesday and Thursday for mountainous areas of northern New Mexico.

Chama and Red River could each get 6 to 8 inches of snow this week. More than an inch of snow could fall in Taos, and the forecast shows Angel Fire could receive 3 to 4 inches.

The unseasonably early snow might melt quickly on the ground because of recent heat, so forecasters are uncertain how much snow will accumulate.

“We do have trees out there with leaves that haven’t lost foliage yet, so the weight of that snow bearing down on the trees could damage trees and cause power outages,” meteorologist Scott Overpeck said.

Wintry weather could also make road travel difficult. Ice, low visibility and gusty winds are possible.

But rain, snow and low temperatures could help clear wildfire smoke that has plagued the state for several days.

Albuquerque has a 70% chance of rain Wednesday and a 50% chance Thursday. Rain chances will drop off as temperatures rise later this week.

Thursday will hit 68 degrees in Albuquerque, with temperatures climbing back up to the 80s this weekend.

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