Many parts of the state remained under a high wind warning much of Friday as difficult driving conditions were reported along northern New Mexico highways. Drivers on parts of Interstate 25 near Las Vegas faces severe conditions through Friday afternoon, and roads near Chama were closed due to extreme winds, blowing snow and icy roads, the state Transportation Department reported.
Throughout northern and central New Mexico, snow blew along roadways as plows raced to keep them clear for drivers. About two dozen schools and municipalities closed Friday due to inclement weather.
Residents in the Sandia Mountains said snow and high winds created blizzard-like conditions during the morning commute, making driving difficult, especially in isolated regions where about 3 inches of snow fell.
For resident Amy Elmore, it was a learning experience, since she had never driven in snow before.
"My husband says you've got to learn sometime," Elmore told KOB-TV. "And watching the snow drift across the road, it looked like a snake. It was really fun."
The National Weather Service reported gusts around 80 mph near Las Vegas, with the wind chill making it feel as cold as 11 degrees. Parts of the Navajo Nation saw as much as 5 inches of snow.
Forecasters said bitterly cold air was expected to filter from Canada toward New Mexico throughout the weekend, with temperatures dropping below zero in Gallup and Chama, and in the single digests in other parts of the state. Snow was also expected near Las Vegas and south of Gallup.
"A potent cold front that surged across New Mexico (on Friday) with strong gusty winds and areas of light snow will usher in a prolonged blast of well below normal temperatures through early next week," said Brian Guyer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
Guyer said the prolonged period of freezing temperatures through Wednesday could damage exposed plumbing. He said ranchers were advised to provide additional care for livestock during the cold front.
National Weather Service in Albuquerque: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq