News Column

4 Snowstorms Expected in NM This Week

February 26, 2013

Staci Matlock

Sunday night's snowstorm is the first of four expected in New Mexico this week, meteorologists said Monday.

How much snow from the expected storms might grace Santa Fe remains to be seen. Sunday's weather system left two to three inches around town, most of which quickly melted off by Monday afternoon.

The upper elevations of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains received several inches, as did portions of northeastern New Mexico.

A snow-measuring telemetry site near the Santa Fe ski basin picked up 7 inches from Sunday night's storm. Total snowpack at that site now is 44 inches. Melted down, that's the equivalent of eight inches of water.

Ski Santa Fe reported a 52-inch base, with 92 percent of the mountain open for skiers and snowboarders.

Tough driving conditions continued into the evening Monday in the east-central part of the state to the Texas border as high winds created snow drifts 2 to 5 feet high. Portions of Interstate 40 remained closed into the evening as crews struggled to clear the highway.

Tucumcari and Clovis reported 8 to 10 inches of snow, but 50 mph winds made it hard for observers to get accurate measurements.

National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Shy said three storms "are all stacked up like railyard cars coming out of the north Pacific."

One expected later in the day on Tuesday (Feb. 26) will lay down most of its snow near the Colorado border and east to Clayton, though at least a couple of inches are expected on summits of the Sangre de Cristos. A second storm is expected to roll in Thursday following much the same path, Shy said.

A third storm shaping up in the Pacific could pass through New Mexico early next week, bringing another plunge in temperatures.

Although the spring equinox won't occur until the sun's path reaches the equator on March 20, Shy said Friday marks the beginning of a seasonal shift for climatologists. March historically tends to bring some whopper snowstorms to New Mexico. On March 15, 2005, for example, one snow survey spot near Santa Fe received 14 inches of snow.

"March and December is when we tend to get warm spells followed by wild snowstorms that leave a huge pile of snow," Shy said. "The most dramatic snowstorms are on the shoulder seasons of winter."

Both months see more situations where Gulf moisture and storms from the Pacific are met by cold breakouts moving down from the Arctic, he said.

Source: (c)2013 The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, N.M.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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