Storm strands motorists

Thomas Garcia

Monday’s storm system played havoc on locals and tourists.

The wind-driven storm dumped more than a half-foot of snow in the Tucumcari area and closed several roads, including I-40 for more than 19 hours.

Stanley Buss of Swansey, Ill., was traveling two hours from Amarillo on Monday when he finally stopped at a hotel in Tucucmari.

“I am on my way to Laughlin, Nev., with my wife,” Buss said. “We ran into this storm in Amarillo and had to drive slow on a sheet of ice.”

Buss was staying at the Quality Inn. There he dined with several other stranded motorists.

“We talked with a couple who were coming from Arizona,” Buss said. “They said they were able to make it here to Tucumcari.”

Buss said he was hopeful that he would be able to continue their trip on Tuesday.

Three friends traveling from San Jon to Portales had a different experience with the snow.

Max Holloman and his friends took shelter at the Grady fire station after the storm made it difficult to see the road.

“At one point I got out and walked in front of the vehicle to see if we were still on the road,” Holman said. “I quickly realized we were on a sheet of ice and got back in the car.”

Holman said they pulled into the fire station just as the crews were heading out to search for them.

“The fire chief, Wesley Jones, put us up for the night,” Holman said. “They even fed us; it was very hospitable of them.”

Dianne Ragland-Holman, Holloman’s mother, lost contact with her son during the drive and used Facebook, cell and land lines and 911 services to try and locate him.

“I was later notified that he had been told by 911 operators to go to the Grady Fire Station,” Ragland-Holman said.

Ragland-Holman said it was nerve wracking to lose contact and not hear anything from her son.

“Taking three hours to drive 24 miles is not an experience I want to go through again,” said Max Holman.

Despite the blizzard-like conditions there were no ambulance calls for accidents during the storm, Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry said.

“We were fortunate that the interstate was shut down from Amarillo and Santa Rosa at the same time,” Cherry said. “That meant there was not that many people left on the roads.”

Cherry said local motels and hotels were able to accommodate those stranded and there was no need to open the emergency shelter.

“We were lucky this time around,” Cherry said. “With the sun shining the snow and ice are beginning to melt and the roads have reopened.”

Meteorologist Todd Shoemake of the National Weatrher Service in Albuquerque said Monday’s winter storm system dropped a reported 7 inches of snow in San Jon and outside of Tucumcari.

“The snow fall across the county varied due to the high winds and drifting,” Shoemake said.

Shoemake said in Nara Visa there was a report of 6 inches of snow with 3-foot drifts. He said Ragland had a reported 4 inches with 3-foot drifts.”

Shoemake forecasts a 30-percent chance of seeing additional snow fall on Thursday and Friday in Quay County.

“On Thursday another upper level disturbance will move into the area,” said Todd Shoemake, NWS meteorologist.

Shoemake said this disturbance will include winds out of the northeast with gust up to 25 mph.

“Temperatures will be cold enough for snow fall,” Shoemake said. “It will not be as powerful as Monday’s storm system, with 1 to 2 inches of snow expected.”

Shoemake said an additional 1 to 2 inches is possible Friday.