Snow closes schools, more storms in forecast

Joshua Kellogg
Scarlett Henderson, left,  and her mother, Nicole Henderson, prepare to build a snowman on Thursday at Brookside Park in Farmington. Schools in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington canceled classes on Thursday.

FARMINGTON — Most schools in San Juan County were closed Thursday because of inclement weather that is projected to continue through the weekend.

The Aztec Municipal School District, Bloomfield School District, Farmington Municipal School District and San Juan College canceled classes after the snow raised safety concerns, according to officials.

“We felt with the ferocity of the storm and rapid increase of snow on the roads, we didn’t feel it was safe for kids to be on the buses and in cars going to school,” Farmington Superintendent Gene Schmidt said.

Meteorologist Brian Guyer from the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said the largest report of snowfall in San Juan County was 2.2 inches about one mile northwest of downtown Farmington. Guyer said Aztec received about 2 inches of snow, and other spots around the county gathered about 1.5 inches.

Bloomfield Superintendent Kim Mizell said U.S. Highway 550 south of the city was packed with ice. Mizell said the district initially issued a two-hour weather delay, then she decided to cancel school after snow continued to accumulate on the roads.

Road conditions on U.S. Highway 550 north of Aztec and ice and snow leftover from Wednesday’s storm led Aztec Superintendent Kirk Carpenter to cancel school Thursday. Carpenter said he drove north on Highway 550 Thursday morning and found the road to be snowy and ice-packed.

Angel Vandever poses for a photo for her father, Wesley Vandever, not pictured, while standing next to her finished snowman on Thursday at Brookside Park in Farmington.

The Central Consolidated School District implemented its inclement weather bus stops district-wide, but schools remained open on Thursday. When the inclement weather bus stop schedule is implemented, buses only drive on pavement and stay off dirt roads, said CCSD spokesman James Preminger.

Preminger said administrators decided to keep schools open because less than 2 inches of snow had fallen and temperatures were expected to rise above freezing.

District and magistrate courts in Aztec and Farmington were also closed Thursday, along with several private schools, including Sacred Heart Catholic School and Grace Baptist Academy in Farmington.

San Juan County Sheriff's Office Detective Lt. Kyle Lincoln said two car wrecks occurred Thursday morning, both on U.S Highway 550. One was north of Aztec, and the other was south of Bloomfield. Lincoln said there were no injuries reported in either crash.

As of Thursday afternoon, Guyer said there were two more storms forecast to pass through San Juan County. The strongest storm was projected to hit Thursday evening and continue overnight into midday Friday.

"It will have a fairly significant impact on travel (Thursday night) and (Friday morning)," Guyer said.

Guyer said the storm was expected to drop an additional 2 to 4 inches of snow in Aztec, Bloomfield and Farmington. Another storm, expected to hit the area Saturday evening, could also bring light snow showers, Guyer said. Temperatures that evening could drop to 8 to 12 degrees.

Farmington Municipal School District administrators encountered issues as automated phone calls were made to households on Thursday morning.

Schmidt said about 1,100 of the nearly 11,000 phone numbers that were contacted were blocked or disconnected. He advises parents to unblock their numbers and update their student’s records to ensure automated phone calls reach them.

Schmidt and Billy Huish, the district's transportation supervisor, recorded a video that was posted to the San Juan Safe Communities Initiative Inc. website asking parents to update their students’ records to ensure they can be contacted in case of an emergency.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

From left, Caren Ortega, Audrey Anderson and Cristal Ortega work together to build a snowman on Thursday at Brookside Park in Farmington.