Frank Gutierrez of Clovis shovels snow Thursday from his driveway on Putman Street. Gutierrez was glad to be able to use the new shovel he picked up at a garage sale recently. (CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks)
By Tonya Fennell and Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writers
Curry County residents awoke Thursday morning to find the area blanketed in snow.
The winter precipitation began falling Wednesday night and continued intermittently through Thursday morning with two and a half inches eventually accumulating, according to the National Weather Service. The last measurable snow occurred in March with the National Weather Service reporting a half inch.
Temperatures in Clovis Thursday dipped to 16 degrees in the early morning hours with winds reaching gusts of 39 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
The frigid temperatures and precarious road conditions caused by the wintery blast gave area students a two-hour reprieve from classes. Many parents opted to keep their children home for the entire day.
Sandia Elementary School attendance was down, according to attendance secretary Rachel Foster. Foster said she fielded numerous calls from parents advising her that their children would not be in school because of the weather.
“People just didn’t want to get out in it (the weather),” she said.
Clara Vaughn was one of the parents who chose to keep her children home, citing a fear of driving in the inclement weather as her reason. Vaughn, an Air Force wife and mother of three, said she has absolutely no driving experience on icy roads.
“I’m from Miami,” she said, “so, I am not used to this horrible weather.”
The wintry conditions resulted in nine vehicle accidents in Clovis by mid-afternoon Thursday, though none was serious, according to city police.
Clovis Police Lt. Patrick Whitney said the majority occurred at intersections. Whitney said drivers often have a false sense of confidence in road conditions and pick up speed only to find they can’t stop or respond quickly when they approach intersections.
According to New Mexico State Police Capt. Daniel Lopez, there were five accidents between Clovis and Fort Sumner and 18 through Santa Rosa, Vaughn and Tucumcari from around 2 p.m. Wednesday to Thursday afternoon.
Of those, injuries were reported in four, he said, although he was unable to give the extent.
Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher reported no accidents as of Thursday morning in his jurisdiction.
Parmer County, on the other hand, had almost a dozen vehicles slide off the roadway but no collisions, Sheriff Randy Geries reported.
“We actually had more wrecks and injuries in the fog (earlier this week),” Geries said.
“We are pleasantly surprised. We’re just as happy as we can be — sometimes we’re not this lucky. We’re real pleased with the lack of accidents and we’re knocking on wood.”
Likewise Clovis Fire Department officials noted nothing out of the ordinary.
“(Wednesday) night was totally uneventful and (Thursday) we had nothing more than just a couple of minor fender benders. It’s been very quiet,” Lt. Jim Hogg said.
Temperatures today are expected to reach the mid- to upper 40s with no precipitation, according to the National Weather Service.