Holidays turning into winter wonderland

It just might be a white Christmas in Quay County after all.

“By Saturday (today) morning there is a possibility of up to four to six inches of snowfall in Quay County,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Suk. “There will be blowing snow with winds out of the north, 15-25 mph, leading to poor visibility and drifting snow.”

The high today is expected to reach 37 degrees and the low tonight is to be 17 degrees, according to the NWS. From Sunday through Christmas day, the highs were predicted to be mid-40s and to fall to the low 20s at night.

Just four days ago, the high in Tucumcari was 64 degrees.

Friday night’s storm was expected to exit northeastern New Mexico tonight. However a second storm system is predicted to arrive Monday, Suk said.

Monday’s storm is expected to bring a 10 percent chance of precipitation and on Tuesday there is a 20 percent chance of snow, Suk said. By Tuesday night the chance of snow increases to 30 percent, Suk said.

With a good chance of snow through this weekend, local road, emergency and law enforcement agencies are making preparations.
The New Mexico State Police will be monitoring the developing weather and how it might affect I-40 traffic.

Last weekend, the New Mexico State Police worked 19 weather related accidents, three with injuries, along I-40 in Quay County because of snow. Officials closed I-40 eastbound from Santa Rosa to Tucumcari for almost two hours on Dec. 15 to get a handle on the situation, said New Mexico State Police Lt. Cleo Baker.

If the weather causes road closures, the city of Tucumcari has an emergency management plan in place if motorists become stranded in Tucumcari.

Last year between 6,000 and 7,000 motorists were stranded in Tucumcari when a snow storm closed I-40 and other routes surrounding Tucumcari because of hazardous road conditions.

“We have made arrangements with the Tucumcari schools and (city) recreation center to set up shelters if needed,” said Deputy Emergency Director Keith Henderson. “We will also be in touch with the local hotels and motels to check on room availability.”

On Thursday, New Mexico Department of Transportation crews were prepping plow trucks with sand, salt and cedar mix, said staff manager Tony Garcia.

“It is tough to be on call, to go out for bad weather, especially around holiday times,” Garcia said. “We would all like to be with our family but we are ready to go out when we are needed.”

Tips for Weathering Storms
l Families should have state, and local emergency numbers, an out of state contact, and a place all family members agree to meet.

l Supply kit: One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and an additional one month’s supply of any items or RX for medical conditions. 

l Also suggested are battery-powered radios, flashlights, extra batteries, diapers, baby formula, food and supplies for family pets, sleeping bags or warm blankets and matches.

l Travelers: a ‘go kit’ for the car including enough bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods battery-powered radio; sleeping bags or blankets; first aid kit; flashlight with batteries; road flares; battery booster cables; road map; shovel; sand or kitty litter (for tire traction); tow rope; and windshield scraper.

l If stranded, stay calm and with the car. Tie a brightly colored cloth to antenna. Run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour (make sure exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow or debris). Leave overhead light on inside the car to be seen, move body continuously to keep blood circulating and stay warm, keep one window open for fresh air and minimize risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and make sure your gas tank is near full to avoid ice in the tank and fuel lines.