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Winter Rush

SANTA FE — The two cold fronts that collided over Santa Fe on Sunday, dumping 4 to 6 inches of snow in the City Different, left in their wake hazardous road conditions and more than a foot of mountain snow just in time for opening day at several New Mexico ski resorts.

Record low temperatures also were set early Monday, with the minus 3 recorded at the Santa Fe airport plunging below the previous record low of 5 degrees for the same date in 1951, according to the National Weather Service. New lows for Dec. 10 also were reported at Las Vegas, N.M., with minus 6 degrees; Raton, with minus 8; and Moriarty, with minus 5.

That was a sharp contrast to the above-normal temperatures the state has experienced in recent weeks.

Snow-packed and icy roads contributed to a fatal crash Sunday evening on Interstate 25 just north of the La Cienega exit. Santa Fe resident Dorothy Mullins, 54, was killed when her Chevrolet slid off the highway, hit the barrier and ended up in the middle of the two northbound lanes, where it was struck by a truck, according to State Police.

Icy streets delayed school openings and events throughout much of northern New Mexico, including Santa Fe’s traditional Las Posadas procession on the Plaza Sunday night.

But skiers welcomed the storm.

Ski Santa Fe, which received 16 inches of snow, announced it will open three of its runs on Saturday.

Angel Fire, with 14 inches of new snow, and Red River, with 6 inches, will open Friday, while Taos Ski Valley, with 13 new inches, opens Thursday. Sipapu, with 14 inches, already is open.

Other ski areas, such as Sandia Peak and Pajarito, only received an inch out of this storm and have yet to announce opening dates.

Santa Fe’s heavy dose of snow fell in just two hours Sunday afternoon, according to meteorologist David Craft with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. Nine inches were reported near Tesuque and 7 inches near Glorieta.

Although the snow season is well behind schedule, the weekend snow was welcome news to a state parched by drought.

Snow measurement stations in the Sangre de Cristos jump from 14 percent of average for this date to 23 percent. “It’s a good start,” Ed Polasko at the Weather Service said Monday morning. “Unfortunately, it’s Dec. 10.”

Craft noted that below-normal temperatures should continue through today but warm on Wednesday and Thursday to back above normal.

Thursday into Friday brings another storm and chance of light snow in the Santa Fe area, he added.

If the cold and snow weren’t enough from this recent storm, it also brought some nasty winds in the central and south-central parts of the state, Craft said. Gusts peaked at 40-46 mph in Albuquerque, while gusts up to 61 mph were reported in the area of White Sands and a gust of 56 mph was reported east of the Socorro area, he said.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal