ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Heavy snow, icy road force delays in NM
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — The winter storm on Sunday, which struck northern and central areas of the state, forced the temporary closure of Interstate 40 in Clines Corners and parts of Interstate 25 near Santa Fe. Officials say two semi-trucks were jack knifed on Interstate 40.
All state government offices in Santa Fe are on a two-hour delay because of the inclement road conditions, according to a news release sent out by state officials just after 4:30 a.m. Monday.
Both highways were reopened as of early Monday, but state transportation officials urged motorists to use extreme caution and expect heavy delays.
The winter weather forced some northern New Mexico cities and towns Monday to open on a two-hour delay. Officials say some areas saw as much as six inches of snow.
Winter arrived with a wallop in northern and central New Mexico on Sunday, bringing with it up to a foot of snow in the mountains, treacherous driving conditions, gusty winds and cold temperatures.
“The road conditions in the northeast part of the state are really bad,” said Melissa Dosher, spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation. “It’s ugly out there.”
Roads were snow-packed and icy from Raton Pass to Santa Fe, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation, and crews were out plowing, salting and sanding highways. Heavy snow accumulation and difficult driving conditions were also reported from Chama to Gallina.
Dosher said crews were prepared for the wintry onslaught and were “working around the clock.” Eighty dump trucks with snowplows attached were salting the ice and using cinders to provide traction, she said.
State Police reported cars sliding off the roads and several crashes.
Santa Fe offices, recreational facilities and the municipal court will open at 10 a.m. today. The city’s public schools are also delayed two hours, according to the Santa Fe Office of Emergency Management.
As much as 5 inches had fallen there by Sunday night, while a foot of snow fell in the mountains near Santa Fe and Angel Fire, according to the National Weather Service.
The storm snarled traffic on major roads and highways in northern New Mexico. Part of Interstate 25 southbound near Santa Fe was closed Sunday afternoon. Later, I-25 northbound, just south of Santa Fe, was closed due to an accident and weather conditions. Interstate 40 in Clines Corners, to the east of Albuquerque, was also shut down for part of the evening.
Albuquerque was largely spared snowfall, although Sandia Peak got trace amounts. PNM reported outages affecting more than 1,880 customers in Albuquerque, but power was restored quickly.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning to remain in effect until 11 p.m. Sunday.
The storm came courtesy of an arctic front that swooped into New Mexico on Sunday. Lows were expected in the mid-teens in Albuquerque, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Frazier. That would be the coldest temperature this season. Previously, the lowest temperature in Albuquerque this season was 23 degrees on Nov. 12, he said.
The storm system is expected to move out by today, but temperatures will remain below normal early in the week, with highs in the upper 30s or lower 40s in Albuquerque, Frazier said.
Temperatures will begin to warm by the end of the week, but another storm is expected to hit Friday or Saturday with a mix of snow or rain, according to the National Weather Service.
New Mexico has had little moisture over the past two years, resulting in much of the state having to struggle with some category of drought. So far, this year ranks as the warmest on record and the second driest in New Mexico.
The cold and snow was welcome at New Mexico’s ski resorts.
Krysty Ronchetti, spokeswoman for Angel Fire Resort, east of Taos, said the resort had gotten close to 11 1/2 inches of snow by early Sunday evening. On Sunday, the resort held a “ski school” for staff.
“We open officially on Friday, so this storm comes at a good time,” she said.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal