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First day of winter kicks off with special advisory and Winter Storm Watch for the area

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Much of northern and central New Mexico to see snowfall begin Tuesday and last through Wednesday

By The Staff

Today's winter solstice--the shortest day of the year--also ushers in the first official day of winter. It appears as though Old Man Winter will waste little time in getting down to work.

Monday morning, the National Weather Service issued the following Special Weather Statement for the Jemez Mountains area of New Mexico:

A WINTRY PERIOD AHEAD OF THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY...

A LARGE PACIFIC WEATHER SYSTEM MAKING LANDFALL IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST TODAY WILL MOVE RAPIDLY INTO NEVADA TONIGHT. THIS WILL BRING THE FIRST PUSH OF WINTRY WEATHER INTO NORTHWEST NEW MEXICO ON TUESDAY... WITH PRECIPITATION SPREADING TO THE SOUTH AND EAST TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY. THE SNOW WILL GRADUALLY DIMINISH LATE WEDNESDAY AND WEDNESDAY NIGHT.

A COLD FRONT WILL RACE ACROSS THE STATE LATE TUESDAY NIGHT THROUGH WEDNESDAY WITH SIGNIFICANT DROPS IN TEMPERATURE AND BRISK NORTH TO NORTHWEST WINDS ACROSS THE SOUTH AND EAST. TEMPERATURES ARE FORECAST TO REMAIN WELL BELOW NORMAL THROUGH THE UPCOMING HOLIDAY WEEKEND.

THE EXACT LOCATION AND AMOUNT OF THE HEAVIEST SNOWFALL IS SOMEWHAT CERTAIN. HOWEVER... MUCH OF NORTHERN AND CENTRAL NEW MEXICO WILL LIKELY SEE SNOW FROM THIS STORM. SUBSTANTIAL ACCUMULATIONS ARE MOST LIKELY OVER THE NORTHERN AND WESTERN HIGH TERRAIN WHERE TRAVEL WILL BE DIFFICULT.

INITIALLY... SNOW WILL DEVELOP OVER THE NORTHWEST ON TUESDAY. A WINTER STORM WATCH HAS BEEN ISSUED FOR THE NORTHWEST AND FAR NORTHWEST HIGHLANDS... SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS AND JEMEZ MOUNTAINS FOR TUESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. SNOW TUESDAY NIGHT WILL SPREAD SOUTH AND EAST INTO THE SOUTHWEST... CENTRAL MOUNTAINS AND SANGRE DE CRISTO MOUNTAINS. RAIN SHOWERS IN THE RIO GRANDE VALLEY AND NORTHEAST WILL TURN TO SNOW DURING TUESDAY NIGHT. RAIN AND SNOW SHOWERS WILL REACH THE EAST CENTRAL INTO SOUTHEAST PLAINS LATER TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY.

IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO BE OUTDOORS OR TRAVELING ACROSS NEW MEXICO FROM TUESDAY THROUGH THURSDAY... PREPARE FOR WINTRY WEATHER. STAY IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH YOUR PREFERRED WEATHER INFORMATION SOURCE FOR ADDITIONAL WATCHES... WARNINGS AND ADVISORIES.

Additionally, the National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the area:

WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON...

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN ALBUQUERQUE HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WATCH... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM TUESDAY MORNING THROUGH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON.

* SNOW ACCUMULATIONS... SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATIONS ARE POSSIBLE ACROSS THE NORTHWEST MOUNTAINS AND ADJACENT HIGHLANDS TUESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. THE HEAVIEST ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED ACROSS THE SOUTHWEST FACING SLOPES WHERE OVER 8 INCHES OF SNOW IS POSSIBLE.

* TIMING... SNOW WILL BEGIN ON TUESDAY... BUT WILL INCREASE IN COVERAGE AND INTENSITY TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING.

* WINDS... WIDESPREAD SIGNIFICANT WINDS ARE NOT EXPECTED.

* SNOW LEVELS... TEMPERATURES WILL BE INITIALLY BE COLD ENOUGH FOR SNOW AT ALL LOCATIONS TUESDAY MORNING... HOWEVER LOCATIONS BELOW 7000 FEET MAY CHANGE BACK OVER TO RAIN TUESDAY AFTERNOON BEFORE CHANGING BACK TO SNOW AGAIN TUESDAY NIGHT.

* LOCAL IMPACTS... HAZARDOUS WINTER DRIVING CONDITIONS ARE POSSIBLE ACROSS THE WATCH AREA. VISIBILITIES MAY BE REDUCED TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY MORNING IN SNOW. ROADWAYS MAY BECOME SNOW PACKED AND ICY FOR HOLIDAY TRAVELERS.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

REMEMBER... A WINTER STORM WATCH MEANS CONDITIONS ARE FAVORABLE FOR A HAZARDOUS WINTER WEATHER EVENT IN AND CLOSE TO THE WATCH AREA.

More Information

WINTER STORM TO IMPACT NEW MEXICO TUESDAY AND WEDNESDAY...

SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL AMOUNTS ARE POSSIBLE ACROSS THE NORTHWEST MOUNTAINS AND ADJACENT HIGHLANDS TUESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY. SNOW IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN ACROSS THE HIGHER ELEVATIONS ON TUESDAY AS A STRONG UPPER LEVEL LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM DIVES INTO ARIZONA. COOLER TEMPERATURES TUESDAY NIGHT WILL ALLOW SNOW LEVELS TO DROP TO THE SURFACE... AS SNOW INCREASES IN COVERAGE AND INTENSITY. THE HEAVIEST ACCUMULATIONS ARE EXPECTED ACROSS SOUTHWEST FACING SLOPES OF THE SAN JUAN AND JEMEZ MOUNTAINS. SNOW IS EXPECTED TO DIMINISH WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON AS THE UPPER LEVEL LOW EXITS EASTERN NEW MEXICO.