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Snowfall in Northern New Mexico ends; wintry conditions to linger

December 30, 2018

The snowstorm may have moved on, but harsh weather — and the difficult travel that comes with it — will be around for a while.

The second storm of the week rolled through Santa Fe late Thursday night and early Friday morning, bringing with it as many as 6 inches of windswept snow in some places. The mountains around town received 9 inches.

Almost as problematic, officials said, were snow-packed and icy roads that made navigating city streets a tricky experience.

And if all that weren’t enough, the high temperature never got above the mid-20s Friday, complicating road-clearing efforts by city crews and state Department of Transportation employees.

“The wind gusts are really making temperatures drop and making roads icy,” Kim Gallegos, a spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said Friday morning. “We’ve kept the roads plowed and put down treatment where we can, but the winds are really bad.”

The city saw 29 wrecks Wednesday and Thursday, and had received reports of 10 more Friday, though complete call logs weren’t available for the day.

On average, Santa Fe police Lt. Jose Gonzales said, police respond to about 10 to 12 crashes a day.

Still, Gonzales said the situation was better than might have been expected, which he credited to state, city and county government delays and cancellations.

“Not as many people were on the street during rush hour,” he said, calling the decision to stay home a “very smart move.”

By early Friday afternoon, Rosanne Rodriguez, the Santa Fe spokeswoman for the Transportation Department, said crews were still concentrating on clearing Interstate 25, U.S. 284/285 and N.M. 599.

“Now that I-25 is breaking up, we’re starting to send our trucks back into the city,” she said, referencing state-managed city thoroughfares such as Cerrillos Road, St. Michael’s Drive and St. Francis Drive.

Though a winter storm warning remained in effect for Northern New Mexico through early Saturday, bad weather moved east toward the state line with Texas, with more than a foot of snow expected in Clines Corners, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Shoemake.

The storm was being driven by high winds that created drifts and difficult driving conditions, particularly along Interstate 40.

“It’s affecting the entire state right now,” Shoemake said.

Weather service meteorologists said road conditions likely will remain tricky through the weekend, mainly due to frigid temperatures. Shoemake said Santa Fe likely won’t see temperatures above freezing until Thursday, adding another storm with snow potential could be here Monday afternoon.

Sharon Sullivan, a meteorologist, said the third storm could potentially add another 1 to 3 inches of snow in downtown Santa Fe and another 4 inches in the mountains.

“Any snow or ice will be real slow to melt,” said Shoemake. “It’s going to be a very cold week.”

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