An arctic cold front has moved into Quay County this morning, turning the much needed rain into snow, and is expected to produce blizzard-like conditions, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
The key ingredient to starting this winter storm system is the cold front, which forecasts show will pass directly through Quay County, said Jason Frazier, NWS meteorologist.
That cold front will drop the temperatures, turning the rain into snow, Frazier said.
Fraizer said the drop in temperatures will also cause the precipitation that has already fallen to freeze.
“It is going to create some conditions hazardous for travel,” Frazier said.
Frazier said this winter storm system will produce blizzard-like conditions in portions of Quay County. He said conditions will include blowing and blinding snow from wind gusts as high as 45 mph.
Tucumcari and San Jon schools are out on winter break. Logan schools is still having classes with on buses scheduled to leave early today due to the approaching storm, according to school officials.
Fraizer said projections in the forecast show Tucumcari will receive 7 or more inches of snow. He said other areas could receive as much as 9 or more inches.
“Depending on how heavy the bands of precipitation are in this system there is a potential to see up to 5 additional inches of snow to the projected totals,” Fraizer said.
Tucumcari City officials have already started planning for the possibility of stranded motorist in the event Interstate 40 shutting is shut down.
“We have contacted the recreation center in the event we need to open a shelter,” said Mike Cherry Tucumcari Fire Chief.
Cherry said this system may cause a closure on the Texas side of I-40, preventing eastbound traffic.
“It all depends if and when I-40 gets shut down,” Cherry said “Once I-40 is shut down, officials will contact the hotels and motels to monitor how full they get.”
Cherry said Tucumcari has around 1,250 rooms. He said when they begin to fill up, officials will contact Quadalupe County and ask them to shut down eastbound traffic on I-40.
Frazier said snow fall will hould continue until 3 a.m. Tuesday morning, then scattered snow showers in areas until it moves out of the area by noon.