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In wake of winter storm travel remains treacherous

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County plows at work early Wednesday

By The Staff

The punishing winter storm that rolled through the Los Alamos area Monday night and Tuesday has moved on to wreak havoc in the midwest Wednesday. The temperature here was a bone-chilling 11 degrees at 6 a.m. and county plows had already been at work for hours.

Los Alamos Public Schools and Los Alamos National Laboratory appear to be ready to return to regular schedules today, despite the fact that many secondary roads still remain snow-packed. Temperatures today are not expected to get above freezing, so the snow on the roads now will remain unless plows remove it.

“We started 12-hour shifts yesterday (Monday). We’ve got all our equipment on the streets with the exception of a couple of pieces in maintenance,” Public Works Director Kyle Zimmerman said Tuesday morning during an interview from the airport. “It’s so windy that there’s no way anyone could fly in or out.”

Temperatures dipped after midnight Monday, said National Weather Service Meteorologist Kerry Jones.

“Los Alamos had a temperature of 34 degrees at midnight that began dropping as the front of the storm hit between 4-5 a.m. Tuesday. It was 27 degrees at 9:50 a.m. (Tuesday),” Jones said. “We show snow measuring 7-10 inches in town and 18 inches on the top of Pajarito Mountain.”

The National Weather Service maintains a sensor at the Los Alamos County Airport. Peak winds were observed at 10 a.m. Tuesday measuring 60 miles per hour. “Sustained winds were at 41 mph with gusts measuring 50-55 mph.” Jones said.

Those winds wrecked havoc on local power lines overnight. Deputy Utility Manager Raphael De La Torre is responsible for the electrical grid in Los Alamos County.

“It appears around 4:40 a.m. Tuesday we started experiencing power outages throughout the Los Alamos area and specifically in North Mesa and Barranca mesa. These outages are a direct result of high winds slapping wires together to Feeder 16, which crosses Pueblo Canyon and provides power to the North Mesa and Barranca Mesa areas,” De La Torre said.

The Department of Utilities re-routed power to those areas from Feeder 15, he said. Sporadic outages affected from several to 20 customers. These smaller sporadic outages were caused by blown fuses, which had to be manually replaced.

 

“Unfortunately this is to be expected when we have this type of severe weather. We’ve got 10 linemen out working in crews of two across the county. We tip our hats to our linemen who are out working in this weather restoring power to our customers as quickly as possible. We ask our customers to be patient and understanding during this difficult time,” De La Torre said.