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Third storm in series drops 4 to 6 inches of snow on San Juan County

Four Corners dodges below-zero temps of eastern N.M.

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The storm forced school districts throughout the county to close their doors.
  • Locations in Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield all reported 6 inches of snow.
  • Locations throughout eastern New Mexico reported temperatures of well below zero.

FARMINGTON —  The last storm in a series of three disturbances that moved through the Four Corners area over the past several days packed the biggest wallop, dumping 4 to 6 inches of snow in locations across San Juan County overnight.

Most residents of the county headed to bed on Feb. 15 having seen only a dusting or an inch or so of snow from the first two storm systems, which began on Feb. 12. But by the time they woke up on Feb. 16, things had changed considerably.

Alyssa Clements, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said her agency received several reports of snow totals of 4 to 6 inches in Farmington and Aztec, and a report of 6 inches in Bloomfield. She said two reports were received from Cedar Hill — one for 2.3 inches and another for 3.5 inches.

Clements said the storm was a statewide event, with most locations in central and western New Mexico reporting at least a couple of inches of snow. Reports from the Albuquerque area totaled 1 to 2 inches, while Santa Fe drew 6 to 10 inches. She said there was a report of 11 inches from Capitan, and reports of heavy snow as far south and east as Lincoln County.

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A pair of bicyclists pedal over a snow-covered sidewalk at Kiwanis Park in Farmington on Feb. 16, 2021.

The storm was expected to continue dropping snow throughout the afternoon of Feb. 16 and into Feb. 17, with the highest totals expected in the Sacramento and Sangre de Cristo mountains.

The bigger issue for San Juan County was expected to be an increase in winds, with gusts of 30 to 40 mph expected during the afternoon of Feb. 16. Clements said that was likely to create some hazardous driving conditions with blowing snow.

San Juan College closed its campus on Feb. 16 in response to the storm, canceling all in-person classes and activities, although its online classes continued as scheduled. The college also closed its Health and Human Performance Center.

The Farmington Municipal School District switched to a remote learning day, and canceled all meal deliveries and curbside meal service. The Aztec Municipal School District and the Central Consolidated School District also went to virtual classes for the day, with CCSD delaying its meal service.

The Bloomfield School District had been scheduled to resume in-person learning, but Superintendent Kim Mizell said she declared a snow day for the district, canceling all in-person and remote learning for the day. The district did not offer meal service. Mizell said she was hopeful her district would be able to resume in-person learning by Feb. 18.

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An empty parking lot is pictured at the San Juan College campus in Farmington on Feb. 16, 2021, after an overnight storm led to the cancellation of in-person classes.

Some locations throughout San Juan County had received 1 to 2 inches from the earlier storms, Clements said, meaning the area got a good amount of badly needed moisture. And while temperatures did drop into the teens in the area, the county did manage to avoid the bone-chilling lows that much of the eastern half of the state saw on Feb. 15.

Clements said Clayton reported a low of minus 15 degrees, which set a new record. Santa Fe reached a low of minus 4, while Clines Corners came in at minus 7. Moriarty reported a low of minus 10, and the low in Tucumcari was minus 8. Raton reported a low of minus 17.

Those cold temperatures are expected to stick around for a couple of days before a warming and drying trend begins on Feb. 18, Clements said.

Snowmelt helps fill a creek at Kiwanis Park in Farmington on Feb. 16, 2021.

"Weather conditions will turn quieter, and there will be a gradual warm-up as temperatures return to near normal by Saturday," she said.

Another storm system could be headed for the Four Corners on Sunday, she said, but that is expected to generate only light snow at most and temperature drops of only 5 to 10 degrees. Another warm-up will follow on the heels of that storm, with temperatures expected to be near normal by early next week.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.