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‘Cold’ is weather word of the week ahead for NM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Had enough snow? Too bad. There’s a good chance of scattered snow showers through a lot of New Mexico today.

The good news is that there won’t be a lot of it and it will move through the state in a hurry.

“We don’t want to make this sound as if we are looking at a big event. We’re not,” said Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the Albuquerque office of the National Weather Service. “But we are going to get more snow.”

Jennifer Palucki, also a meteorologist with the Albuquerque office, said most areas will get an inch of snow or less. The western part of the state and the mountains are expected to get the heaviest snow.

“But just about anybody can see some snowflakes in the air,” Palucki said. “This system does not have the moisture in the air or the wind that accompanied the last system (Saturday and Sunday’s storm). But it is cold, so it will probably stick on the ground.”

“Cold” is the weather word of the week.

Today’s snow showers should be gone by Wednesday, but the cold is here to stay for a while.

“It is going to be generally 15 to 20 degrees below normal through most areas,” Palucki said.

On Thursday, New Year’s Eve, the low in the Albuquerque area is expected to be 14 degrees – and there’s a chance of fog.

“If you do have New Year’s Eve plans, you should be careful if you venture out,” Palucki said.

The Albuquerque area is looking at highs in the mid-30s and lows in the low teens through New Year’s Day. Normal highs this time of year are in the mid-40s, with normal lows in the mid-20s.

In Cedar Crest this week, highs will be in the high 20s and lows could dip into the single digits some nights. Moriarty is expected to have a low of 4 degrees on Wednesday night.

Up north, forecasts call for a 1 degree low for Taos on Wednesday and zero on New Year’s Eve. Chama is expected to have a low of minus 6 degrees on Wednesday night and minus 1 degree on New Year’s Eve.

Those low temperatures will keep snow – and there’s plenty of it in some places – on the ground for some time.

“In eastern New Mexico, there were drifts of 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 feet tall,” Jones said. “And nearby, we have bare ground. That makes it difficult to get what we need to assess records.”

At this point, the Bonito Lake area, 11 miles northwest of Ruidoso, got the most snow out of the weekend storm – a hefty 41 inches.

San Ignacio, 18 miles west of Santa Rosa, and Sandia Park each tallied 30 inches.

Apparently, those totals are not records. On Sunday, Roswell did set a one-day record total of 12.3 inches, eclipsing the old record of 11.5 inches, set on Feb. 5, 1988.

One-day totals of 23 inches in Ruidoso, 16 inches in Socorro and 8 inches in Tucumcari were close to records.

Albuquerque snow totals for the weekend ranged from 1 inch at Coors and Arenal to 6.5 inches in Four Hills. Parts of Placitas got 12 inches and Rio Rancho got as much as 6.2 inches.

Jones said New Mexico’s snowpacks, especially to the south, benefited tremendously from the weekend storm.

The San Francisco River Basin went from zero snowpack on Dec. 1 to 100 percent by Monday. The Gila River Basin increased from 17 percent to 142 percent of normal, the Mimbres River Basin from 67 percent to 194 percent and the Rio Hondo Basin from 56 percent to 180 percent.

“We went from basically nothing to a whole lot of something in the southern basins,” Jones said. “Most basins in the state are doing better. We know we are better off than last year.”

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