Strong cold front brings high wind, snow to Farmington area
FARMINGTON — A strong cold front from the Pacific Northwest brought high wind and snow as it moved through the region in the early morning hours of Dec. 15.
"We had a very strong cold front move through the Farmington area this morning," meteorologist Brian Guyer of the National Weather Service's Albuquerque bureau said. "Right around 3 a.m., the winds turned sharply to the west and we saw some thunderstorms with snow move through."
He added that visibility dropped below a quarter mile and the front brought a peak wind gust of 66 mph and sustained speed of 46 mph.
About an inch of precipitation was reported at 4:53 a.m. at the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington.
"With the wind and cold temperatures, I'm sure it was pretty blizzardly for a little while," Guyer said.
The high wind caused the community Christmas tree in front of the Farmington Civic Center to fall.
Employees from the city's Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department were seen working to raise the tree on Dec. 15. Other workers cleared ice and snow from sidewalks at the center.
Meanwhile, road conditions in the city in the morning ranged from ice and snow to wet.
Farmington officials reported that crews from the Community Works Department had started plowing city streets at about 4:30 a.m.
Six trucks worked designated snow routes on main roads, then moved to residential streets, according to officials.
Farmington Electric Utility System crews responded to several small outages in the county caused by wind pulling down utility poles and power lines.
Area schools were also affected by the cold weather.
Aztec Municipal School District closed its schools while the Bloomfield School District had a two-hour delay.
Farmington Municipal Schools and Central Consolidated School District held classes online due to the weather conditions.
Guyer said the cold front was significant in size. It impacted Flagstaff and communities across northeast Arizona in addition to Farmington and Gallup.
On the Navajo Nation, power outages were reported by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority in Shiprock, Burnham, Toadlena, Newcomb, Sheep Springs, Ojo Amarillo and the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry area.
NTUA reported at 10:40 a.m. that electric line crews from Shiprock were working on repairs in Ojo Amarillo and NAPI while the outage in Shiprock and areas south were caused by several downed poles and crews had been dispatched to those locations.
Other outrages reported by NTUA were in communities on the Arizona portion of the tribal land.
The tribal government's executive, judicial and legislative branches issued a two-hour delay for employees.
"Due to current inclement weather conditions across our Navajo Nation, we are granting administrative leave to ensure the safety of all our employees traveling to their worksites," stated the memorandum from the tribal president's office.
The weather service is forecasting temperatures in the upper 30s to lower 40s through the weekend.
Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support local journalism with a digital subscription to The Daily Times.