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Winter storm strikes several areas across New Mexico

Joy Wang, Kai Porter, Brittany Costello and KOB.com Web Staff
January 06, 2017 10:23 PM

The entire state dealt with a winter wallop for most of Friday from a cold system that moved through beginning in the overnight hours.

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The storm hit northern New Mexico and the East Mountains particularly hard. Many school districts either reported delayed opening or closed altogether, including in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. School officials said the roads were too treacherous.

In the northern part of the state, residents were inundated for hours as it dumped on them Friday morning. Driving was sketchy on I-25 all the way to the Colorado border.

The snow piled to the side of the road, but there still were a number of icy spots on the freeway in the evening. Snow plows have been going in and out of stations getting more salt and cinder hoping to clear out the roads and make them safer.

The problem is the weather isn't cooperating. The sun is out but if temperatures continue to drop, what's on the road quickly turns to ice, becomes harder to scrape, and makes it even more dangerous to drive on. Salt needs the temperature to be 28 degrees to start working.

“We've been pushing a lot of ice out of the roadways, but the temps are going down so we're salting for traction and hoping some of the temps stay up a little bit, get a little bit melted off,” said Richard Garcia of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, “but it looks like we're going to have quite a few icy spots throughout the night through tomorrow again."

Crews have been working 12-hour shifts because while the storm is over, the cleanup is just beginning. If the temperatures stay low, the salt is there for traction and won't be able to help melt the ice until it gets warmer.

In the metro, the snow came down hard starting around 2 a.m. and picked up over the next few hours. All that snow then turned to ice, creating a messy morning commute for those in Albuquerque. Several drivers in the Gibson and University area saw trouble spots in particular as many vehicles slid on the road during the morning commute. 

It was a rough morning commute for many folks across Albuquerque, and it could be a rough evening because some roads—especially in the shade—could still be wet and freeze over.

For the most part, all of the main roads appeared to be clear and dry by mid-afternoon. It became a welcome sight for drivers who braved the snow and ice in the morning.

“It was snowy and the road was icy, but coming downhill it was fine,” driver John Torrison said.

City of Albuquerque officials said while there were a lot of crashes Friday morning, there were no reports of any major accidents where people was seriously hurt.

On I-40 east of Albuquerque to the Texas border, travelers endured snow-packed roads. The plows dropped salt and cinder to keep traffic moving without having to close the interstate.

Santa Rosa reported getting about 6 inches of snow from the storm, but no major problems. APS also closed all East Mountains schools.

Between Edgewood and Albuquerque, the actual interstate was pretty much clear of ice and snow early Friday evening. For the most part, motorists do not have to slow down too much. It’s a different story when travelers exit I-40 and start driving on backroads that are still packed with ice and snow. 

Some drivers said they saw worse road conditions in the morning road than in the later hours.

 “I can tell you this—that the roads, especially north of Cuba, it's a layer of ice for a couple of hours,” motorist Tom Maxwell said at a Clines Corners rest stop. “In fact, I believe there was even a fatality accident there, a head-on collision. Greatly improved here, except for the rest area.”

He said he's originally from Michigan, so he's used to driving on the snow and ice. He said the key is to go slow and pull over if things get too dicey. 

As for what’s to come, the snow and rain have finished but the forecast shows more frigid temps Friday night. Again, that means some untreated roads may refreeze. After Friday, conditions should improve.

Credits

Joy Wang, Kai Porter, Brittany Costello and KOB.com Web Staff

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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