Winter storm causes minor problems

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo James Ahmmar struggles against the wind Friday as he takes his two dogs for a quick bathroom break on his street.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

The winter storm that blew into eastern New Mexico on Friday caused minor problems in Roosevelt and Curry Counties, but left a number of travelers stranded in Tucumcari.

The storm moved from Western Canada to the Four Corners, across New Mexico and into the Texas Panhandle, bringing high winds and snow.

Curry, Roosevelt and Quay counties were under a winter storm warning until midnight Saturday.

Daniel Porter, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said Portales reported 1 inch of snow through 5 p.m. Friday, Clovis had 1 inch through noon Friday and Tucumcari received 8-12 inches with snow still falling at 3:40 p.m. Melrose reported two-tenths of an inch through 6 p.m. Friday, and Grady had 4.5 inches as of 9 a.m., Porter said.

Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves said fewer than a dozen customers lost power in Roosevelt and Curry counties.

“We just had minor issues,” he said.

Reeves said most of the storm-related power outages occurred in the Texas Panhandle.

Late Friday, Reeves said power had been restored in Roosevelt and Curry counties, but he said that could change.

“It’s going to be windy all night, so the possibility of outages still remains,” he said.

Area law enforcement agencies reported numerous weather-related car wrecks without injuries in their jurisdictions.

State Police dispatcher Kathleen Ashcraft said officers handled six crashes on I-40 in Quay County and one semi turned over on N.M. 209 in Curry County.

Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker said deputies helped with a car that slid off the road and into a tree on N.M. 236. The driver suffered minor injuries, he said.

Also, Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry said his department dealt with about four accidents between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Friday.

“Just limit travel as much as possible,” he advised.

Clovis Police and Curry County Sheriff’s information wasn’t immediately available but both departments were kept busy on traffic issues.

“Tucumcari’s having a time of it right now,” town Police Chief Roger Hatcher said.

The weather caused the closure of I-40 several times throughout the day, and the K-Mart and truck stop parking lots were filling with stranded cars. Tucumcari was running out of places to put people, he said.

Due to the weather, Portales schools canceled the New Mexico Standards-Based Assessments at Portales High School on Friday, and all other school activities were on a two-hour delay. Ninth Judicial District and Magistrate courts in Curry and Roosevelt counties, were also closed, as was the District Attorney’s Office.

According to the Weather Channel Web site, snow and wind was expected into Friday evening, but clear skies with highs of 53 degrees in Portales and 50 degrees in Clovis were predicted for Saturday.

Several Freedom New Mexico staff members contributed to this report.