Cold snap sends temps below zero

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The snow stays away as Ski Pajarito gets just three inches of the white stuff

By The Staff

The latest winter storm lacked the precipitation, but more than made up for it with its frigid temperatures.

Early Wednesday evening, the thermometer read -5 in front of Los Alamos National Bank. And LANL’s Scott Johnson said it could be even colder over night with a forecasted low of -8 for Los Alamos.

“This storm did not pack much in terms of moisture, but it sure brought in a bunch of cold air,” Johnson said.

Johnson said there is a chance on Wednesday night that Los Alamos could break the year low, which was set on New Year’s Day at -9.

Johnson said the all-time record low is -18 for Los Alamos in the 1960s and -28 in White Rock in the 1970s.

“We have no chance of breaking that with this storm,” Johnson said.

Part two of the storm dumped another couple of inches on Los Alamos County Tuesday night.

The weather was good news for some New Mexico ski areas. As of midday Tuesday, Ski Santa Fe reported 19 inches of new snow over a 48-hour period, Sipapu had 17 fresh inches and Angel Fire reported 13 inches. Ski Apache near Ruidoso had 16 new inches. 

Ski Pajairito, though, located in Los Alamos, only received about three inches of the white stuff. The ski mountain temporarily suspended operations until it received an adequate amount of snow and this storm did not qualify.

“Unfortunately, the Snow Gods did not smile upon us,” Pajarito Mountain

General Manager Tom Long said. “We have received about 3” of very cold dry snow. It’s about 14 -15 degrees below zero this morning at the Ski Area. While our fellow ski areas were blessed with copious amounts of the white stuff, we were bridesmaids. We are still hopeful of opening as soon as we get enough, but right now it is not to be.”

Statewide, the storm all but shut down Albuquerque as city schools and offices were closed Tuesday and Wednesday because of the storm.

According to KOB, Albuquerque police responded to 85 serious accidents in the morning hours. Although a lot of snow did not fall, the wind gusts caused blowing snow, which made it difficult to see when driving.

The State Police, meanwhile, reported that it responded to 60 crashes, the majority of them on Interstates 25 and 40.

The state Transportation Department advised people to stay off the roads through Wednesday if they don’t have to drive. Those who must travel should be prepared with emergency supplies — extra food, water,  flashlights and warm clothes — in case of road closures or other weather-related problems.

Parts of I-25 and 40 were closed in New Mexico on Wednesday after the state was hit by snow and bitter cold.

The state Transportation Department says Interstate 25 was closed from the Socorro area to Las Cruces.

The department says Interstate 40 was closed Wednesday morning between Cubera and Laguna because of a crash.

Difficult driving is reported on I-40 in the Bluewater and Grants area and east of Albuquerque to the Texas state line.

Difficult driving conditions also are reported in northern New Mexico to the Colorado state line.

Nationally, a massive storm billed as the worst in decades barreled toward the northeast Wednesday, leaving vast swaths from Chicago to New York paralyzed by snow and ice, leaving hundreds of motorists stranded all night and shuttering airports and schools.

Chicago received up to 17 inches of snow with more still possible, and Missouri as much as 1 1/2 feet. More than a foot dropped on northern Indiana and southeast Kansas, while Oklahoma saw as much as a foot.

In the Northeast, spots in northern New York had already gotten more than a foot of snow. New York City was expected to get up to three-quarters of an inch of ice by midday before the mix of sleet and freezing rain warms up to rain.

Forecasters warn that ice accumulations could knock down some tree limbs and power lines.

Ice also could affect transit service, even as plow drivers struggled to keep up with the snow on many roads.