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Storm leaves a mess across New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A smattering of ice and snow blanketed most of the state Saturday night, making for slick conditions on highways and closing roads across the state into Sunday morning before it moved north to the Colorado border.

Albuquerque’s streets were dry for the most part by Sunday afternoon, while the northern mountains were hit the hardest, according to the National Weather Service, with up to 22 inches of snow accumulated since the storm arrived in the state Thursday.

“Most of it was pretty much widespread, there was snow all over,” said weather service meteorologist Chris Luckett. On Saturday, “Travel was impacted; it was slow. It was somewhat white-out conditions.”

The foothills received the most snow in Albuquerque, with 2 inches at Tramway and Montgomery. Rio Rancho got an inch of snow overnight, Placitas received 2.5 inches, and Sedillo got 8 inches.

State Police spokesman Sgt. Emmanuel Gutierrez said more than 35 crashes were reported along Interstate 40 since Friday evening, including 14 with injuries and one fatality. I-40 was closed with traffic at a standstill for hours Saturday evening but later reopened.

The storm had claimed the life of a 4-year-old girl in Elida on Friday, when the car she was in slid off U.S. 70. Gutierrez said the storm’s second fatality occurred around 7:30 p.m. Saturday on westbound I-40 near Gallup when a pickup collided with a semi-trailer truck stopped in traffic, killing 56-year-old Kathleen Hunt. Hunt was from Clovis, Calif., and the driver of the pickup suffered no major injuries, Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said the cause of the crash is still being investigated, but it appeared the pickup driver wasn’t able to stop in time.

A Department of Transportation plow and sanding truck heads up Paseo del Norte in northwest Albuquerque on Sunday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

A Department of Transportation plow and sanding truck heads up Paseo del Norte in northwest Albuquerque on Sunday. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Gutierrez said crash numbers were normal for a weekend of wintry weather.

“Any time you have a bunch of weather conditions, it’s such a heavily traveled interstate that it’s normal,” he said.

Minor crashes were reported around Albuquerque, including one early Sunday morning that disabled a light pole near Unser and Northern in Rio Rancho. A nearby gas station closed pumps for precaution, said Rio Rancho Police Department spokeswoman Janet Garcia.

Albuquerque Police Department spokesman Simon Drobik said about 27 accidents were reported from midnight Sunday to noon, including eight with injuries. There were no accidents reported after noon when the weather cleared, he said.

Weather service meteorologist Clay Anderson said the storm was at the New Mexico/Colorado border Sunday night, and would move east into Texas and the gulf states.

Although not much more precipitation is expected and winds have substantially died down, Luckett said tough road conditions will most likely continue today.

“The major thing … is that the leftover snow, a lot of that is going to freeze over. That’s going to make travel a little bit on the hazardous side,” he said. “The leftovers sit on the side of the road and then at night the temperatures are freezing, causing conditions to get a little slick.”

N.M. 152 near Silver City was still closed Sunday night due to icy conditions, as well as N.M. 174 near Glenwood, according to the Department of Transportation. The department reported severe driving conditions on N.M. 126 near Cuba due to heavy snowfall, low visibility and snow-packed roads.

Temperatures today are expected to be in the upper 30s in Albuquerque, Luckett said.