Snow blankets Los Alamos

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The precipitation is expected to taper off tonight but temperatures will take a plunge

By John Severance

It appears that the Los Alamos area was blanketed with at least six inches of snow by Thursday morning with more being forecasted to fall throughout the day.
Los Alamos County Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman said there was about 4 inches that fell overnight and another 3 or 4 inches was added to it and he is expecting another 4 to 6 inches.
Zimmerman said the county crews have been on the roads since the start of the storm, plowing, clearing and salting roads.
“We plow down to the county line on 502 and the state comes up the hill,” he said. “The state also takes care of NM 4.”
For the latest road conditions, check nmroads.com or dial 511.
Acting County Administrator Randy Autio said that all non-essential departments are closing, including the aquatic center and the libraries. Trash pickup will continue as long as the weather permits.
Winds also could become a factor today with gusts expected up to 40 mph.
The biggest change in the weather, though, will be the temperature.  Canadian Arctic air behind the storm front will hit the Los Alamos area tonight and temperatures are expected to plunge into the low single digits.
“We use sand and salt on the road but when it gets really cold, we use this mineral from Idaho called Slice,” Zimmerman said. “The mineral drops the freezing temperature to water. We will use it if it gets really cold.”
And it’s supposed to get really cold.
The high Thursday will be 31 with a low of 2.  And the highs on Friday  and Saturday will be 21 with a low of -5.
According to the National Weather Service,  a winter storm warning for heavy snow and blowing snow remains in effect until midnight.  As far as snow accumulations go, 6 to 12 inches are likely below 7,500 feet with 12 to 18 inches in higher terrain. Higher amounts are likely over the peaks and along the west slopes of the Southern San Juan and Central Jemez Mountains.
Two weeks ago, the county crews were out dealing with a snowstorm that dumped six to eight inches.
“Two weeks ago, the snow was lighter,” Zimmerman said. “This one will be much heavier.”
Zimmerman said it also helps that the schools are out for the holidays and the Los Alamos National Laboratory also is closed.
“That definitely keeps the traffic down,” Zimmerman said.
Police captain Randy Foster said that there have been no accidents as of 10 a.m. Thursday.

Carol A. Clark contributed to this story.