Winter Storm clobbers much of NM, frigid temps to follow

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Snow is expected to hit the area along with high winds and frigid temperatures

By The Staff

As of 11 a.m. Thursday, snow was falling again in most sections of Los Alamos. Unofficially, it appears the area has been blanketed with at least six inches of snow with more forecasted to fall throughout the day.

By late morning, Los Alamos County officials reported that all non-essential personnel are being sent home for the day. The aquatic center and libraries are closing early. Trash pick-up will continue as long as conditions permit Thursday.

A storm that dumped snow on Farmington, Santa Fe and other areas of northern New Mexico also has moved into central New Mexico.

The National Weather Service expects several inches of snow by Thursday afternoon in the Albuquerque metropolitan area, the lower Rio Grande Valley, the Sandia and Manzano Mountains, the Estancia Valley, the lower Chama River Valley, the Santa Fe metro area and the south-central highlands.

Snow and gusty southwest winds hit the Albuquerque area at mid-morning.

The weather service warns of blowing snow and dramatically decreasing visibility.

Deteriorating road conditions are expected along Interstate 40 from Laguna through Tijeras Canyon and on Interstate 25 from Socorro through the Santa Fe area.

Albuquerque emergency management director Sal Baragiola warns residents to curtail travel in the metro area.

Early Wednesday morning clouds moved in and shrouded the Jemez Mountains, which surround Los Alamos.
By 10 a.m. snow flurries started falling in Los Alamos, which is under a winter storm warning until midnight Thursday.

According to the National Weather Service, snow estimates range anywhere from four inches to a foot in the next couple of days.

Winds could also become a factor with gusts expected up to 40 mph.

The storm is coming from the Pacific Northwest and it will rapidly dive southeast to the Four Corners area Thursday before heading east and then northeast on Friday.

Cold air from the Canadian arctic combined with Pacific moisture will spread heavy snow over much of northern and western New Mexico.

The increased wind gusts could produce blizzard conditions.

According to the National Weather Service, the blizzard-like conditions are expected over the Southwest Mountains.

The snow  in the Los Alamos area is expected to diminish Thursday night but temperatures will then fall to single digits.

The high Thursday will be 31 with a low of 2. And the high on Friday will be 21 with a low of 2.

In Albuquerque Wednesday, Sandia Ski Resort had to close all of its lifts except for the beginner's slope, according to the resort website.

State Transportation Secretary Gary Giron says snow plows and crews are ready to hit the highway as soon as the storm rolls in.

Giron says crews will work 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day to monitor conditions and to plow, sand and salt roads as necessary. He says snow-removal operations will be coordinated with state police and other law enforcement agencies.

“While the Department will be working hard to keep roads plowed and open, ensuring motorists reach their destinations safely, I want to remind everyone to please use caution while driving this winter season,” Girón added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.