Unexpected snowstorm hits Albuquerque

February 23, 2019

Well, that was unexpected.

Days after schools and government offices were closed for a winter storm that didn’t quite pan out, Albuquerque got walloped Friday night.

“This is the most snow we’ve had in 24 hours here at the Sunport this season,” said meteorologist Brian Guyer with the National Weather Service.

The Weather Service recorded 3.5 inches of fresh powder at the Sunport and Guyer said even more fell in the foothills, where Tramway was closed near Interstate 25 for part of the night due to hazardous road conditions.

Streets in other parts of the Duke City did not fare much better as city buses experienced delays and several routes were detoured.

Friday evening, cars crawled cautiously through Nob Hill and many people could be seen on the sidewalks or gazing out the windows of restaurants.

“I was looking forward to it,” Jim Firkins said as he watched fat snowflakes fall past the awning of the Guild Cinema along Central Avenue.“I’m pleased that it’s snowing tonight.”

Firkins was out retrieving a hat he left at the theater the night before and, living only a block away, decided to walk through the slushy and “festive” streets.

“It looks nice, not that cold, the wind ain’t blowing. I’m enjoying it,” he said. “I’m ambivalent, I try to enjoy the weather however it is.”

On the University of New Mexico’s Johnson Field, dozens of people built snowmen, made snow angels and carved large messages in the powder as the fluorescent bulbs above gave the whole atmosphere an ethereal glow.

UNM students Hayley Babbitt and Malena Cross had already destroyed their snow angels and were working on the midsection of a large snowman when spotted.

“It’s nice that it’s actually snow and not melting in 30 minutes,” Babbitt said. “I’m generally someone who’s like, ‘let it be 80 degrees,’ but if it’s going to be cold at least have it snow.”

Guyer said the storm benefitted from lots of moisture and it was the first system that came without a “snowshadow” or “snowhole” ? referring to the strong winds that keep snow from falling in the metro area.

Today will see the storm clear out, bringing the high temperature in Albuquerque into the 40s and then into the 50s next week.

“Then it slowly warms up and most people are probably ready for that,” he said.