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Cold snap breaks 105-year-old Albuquerque record

An SUV drives on an icy road on its way up to Sandia Crest. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Tuesday’s windstorm toppled power lines and blew Albuquerque into a record-setting low temperature of 40 degrees Wednesday.

It’s been more than 100 years since the city experienced temperatures in the low 40s on Sept. 9, with the previous record low of 43 degrees occurring in 1915, said meteorologist Clay Anderson of the National Weather Service.

Anderson said it was possible for temperatures to drop even lower Wednesday night, with rain and gusty wind.

PNM journeyman lineman Isaac Padilla and foreman Joe Arnett work on a feeder line along Interstate 40 in the Northeast Heights. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

“Basically, we’re having early November weather in early September,” he said.

September high temperatures are typically in the mid-80s, with lows in the 60s.

Anderson said the temperature drop is “highly unusual,” because it comes after a Labor Day weekend with temperatures in the 90s – and n the heels of one of the hottest Augusts on record.

The high Wednesday was 47 degrees – 19 degrees lower than the previous lowest high temperature on Sept. 9 of 66 degrees in 1980.

It wasn’t just Albuquerque that experienced a record-setting Wednesday.

Snow fell across the northern half of the state from Las Vegas to the Jemez Mountains, with Angel Fire Resort experiencing its earliest snowfall on record.

In Albuquerque, a Tuesday afternoon windstorm caused power outages to ripple across the city, knocked over trees and blew roofing panels off the 2nd Judicial District Courthouse.

A wild turkey trots along the icy road to Sandia Crest. A wintry storm brought snow to parts of central and northern New Mexico. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Around 15,000 Public Service Company of New Mexico customers experienced power outages Tuesday night, and 10,000 customers were still without power by midday Wednesday.

Nina Komatz, one of the customers experiencing an outage, said she has been without power for close to 24 hours and has had difficulty getting an estimate as to when her power would return.

“(PNM) promised us four times today, and each time it’s longer, and it’s cold, too,” she said.

Komatz, an 83-year-old who lives with her 87-year-old husband, George, on Dakota NE near Candelaria, said only a few of her neighbors are also experiencing the power outage.

“As we can see throughout all of our service area, there’s been quite a bit of damage,” PNM spokeswoman Meaghan Cavanaugh said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. “This storm brought down multiple power poles and power lines throughout our service area, and those types of restoration efforts can take a little time.”

Despite the outages, Mayor Tim Keller said overall the city experienced relatively little damage and no injuries were reported.

Keller said the city received 800 calls related to the weather and 100 traffic signals had outages.

Wednesday morning, city crews worked to clear fallen trees and tree branches from roadways and public property.

Dave Simon, director of the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department, said 50 to 60 trees were knocked down, including about two dozen at city parks. City golf courses lost 15 trees.

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