Tucumcari area snowpacked

Chelle Delaney

Tucumcari’s first major snow storm of the year is causing road closures and government offices to close. And a winter storm warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. today.

Interstate 40 from Tucumcari to Amarillo was closed about 11:30 a.m. today, said Tucumcari Police Detective Kim Crockett.

There have been no serious accidents, “most people are just stuck,” Crockett said.

Poor visibility and hazardous road condtions also caused officials to close U.S. Highway 54 earlier today from Tucumcari into Texas.

Quay County and Tucumcari city officals have also closed most of their operations because of the storm.

“The snow is coming in sideways at times. Visibility is pretty bad, and there’s ice under the snow,” Crockett said.

Crockett said she was setting up barricades at Tucumcari Boulevard and U.S. Highway 54 to keep motorists from traveling the hazardous road.

The New Mexico Highway Department issued warnings this morning that Interstate 40 in the Tucumcari area was snowpacked and icy in spots, according to its Web site nmroads.com.

“Visibility is poor at 200 feet” and “reduce your speed and use caution,” the advisory stated.

In the San Jon area to the Texas state line, there has been 3 inches of snow, and visibility is 20 feet, according to the Web site’s 7:19 a.m advisory. Bridges are slick and icy, and it is snowing heavily in the area, the advisory stated.

A winter storm warning is in effect today until 6 p.m. for Quay County, according to the National Weather Service Web site.

In Tucumcari, the Quay County Courthouse offices are closed, including the 10th Judicial District Court, said Ellen White, Quay County city clerk.

Tucumcari city offices were to close at 10 a.m., said Interim City Manager Mike Cherry.

“All city services that are needed, such as roads and parks, and emergency sevices will continue to work the storm,” Cherry said.

Cherry, who is Tucumcari Fire Chief, said the department had not responded to any serious accidents. “We’ve had to help a few stranded motorists,” he said.

The Arch Hurley Conservany District is also closed because of the winter storm, said Franklin McCasland, manager.

Today’s forecast from the NWS is that after 9 a.m. residents would see “snow showers and widespread blowing snow before noon,” the Web site stated.

In the afternoon, snow showers are likely and widespread blowing snow. It is expected to be breezy, with a north wind between 20 and 25 mph, with gusts as high as 30 mph, the Web site stated.

The chance of precipitation is 90 percent, with a total daytime snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.

Dozens of semis were parked at the two truck plazas on Mountain Road and Interstate 40 this morning.

Along Tucumcari Boulevard businesses were beginning to open and several business owners and workers were shoveling snow from their storefronts.

“I’m just trying to clean this up before it ices,” said Richard Talley, owner of Motel Safari on Route 66.

“It would have been good if this would have happened earlier last night,” Talley said. “All the motels in town would be full.”

At the Cornerstone Donuts shop, Julie Martinez said the snow didn’t stop customers from coming through the drive-through at the shop’s 5:30 a.m. opening time.

“There have been several people who had been working all night, like those working the snow plows. There were also EMS and city workers. We’ve been busy,” she said.

Excel Energy reported in an e-mail bulletin that about 3,000 customers in its Texas serivce area were affected by service interruptions and that 1,000 cutomers were without power in the Borger and Amarillo areas. If customers experience an outage, they are adivsed to call Xcel’s emergency line at 1-800-895-1999.

To learn about road conditions, visit nmroads.com or call 1.800.432.4269