FARMINGTON — Roads turned into ice rinks on Wednesday as a passing storm dropped about 2 inches of snow in the area and blew flurries over roads.
A semi truck jackknifed on U.S. Highway 550 near Chaco Canyon and another driver came away unscathed from a single-vehicle rollover on the highway blamed on ice. Several minor collisions were reported in and near Farmington.
State police scrambled to respond to calls of accidents. Morning conditions were “terrible,” said Sgt. Ron Foreman of the New Mexico State Police.
“Roads were icy, intermittent snow and then to compound the problem we had high winds and blowing snow and visibility at times was virtually zero,” he said.
In such conditions, residents should reconsider getting in the car, he said.
“My recommendation is stay home,” he said. “If they were to get stranded, with the wind chill it is extremely cold and it's going to take a while for EMS and law enforcement to respond to a call.”
Foreman added, “If you do need to drive, please drive with your headlights on and reduce your speed and be patient.”
Overnight lows were predicted to drop to near zero in Farmington, promising icy conditions Thursday morning. Skies are expected to remain mostly clear until at least Sunday night with gradually warming temperatures.
“Accumulation should pretty much be done for the valleys,” said Jason Frazier, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Albuquerque.
The snow offered a brief respite from drought conditions in San Juan County.
Precipitation in the San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains remains well below normal.
“Compared to last year we're off to a much slower start,” Frazier said.
However, the snow was a welcome boost for southwest Colorado ski areas.
Durango Mountain Resort received 12 inches from the storm and opened for seven-day-a-week skiing.
It had previously been open Friday through Sunday.
Wolf Creek Ski Area east of Pagosa Springs, Colo. reported 22 inches of fresh snow from the storm.
The snowfall prompted an uptick in business at End Industries, formerly Aztec Ski Rental.
“We've definitely seen a big increase in the past week,” co-owner Richard Bodiford said. “When there's snow, period, instead of 60 degree weather, it helps a lot.”
After a break from snow, a new storm could move in Sunday night and Monday.
“Monday morning, an upper level disturbance will bring another round of moisture and some chance of precipitation, probably in the form of snow,” said Frazier.