Snow storm causes closure for Navajo Nation government

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation

GALLUP — The inclement weather this week caused closures for Navajo Nation departments, divisions and offices under the executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Eight hours of administrative leave for employees was issued for Thursday and Friday by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Speaker Seth Damon and Chief Justice JoAnn B. Jayne in response to a winter storm that brought several feet of snow to some areas of the reservation.

A winter storm warning by the National Weather Service in Albuquerque remains in effect until 5 a.m. Saturday for the Chuska Mountains and the northwest plateau.

The agency's office in Flagstaff issued a winter storm warning until 5 p.m. Friday for Arizona communities on the Navajo Nation, including Chinle, Dilkon, Ganado, Kayenta and Window Rock.

As of 9 a.m. Friday, reported snow accumulations in Arizona were 14 inches in Window Rock, 34 inches in Forest Lake Chapter and half an inch in Tuba City.

The tribe's Commission on Emergency Management declared a state of emergency on Tuesday due to severe winter activity and subsequent muddy conditions from melting snow.

The inclement weather also led the speaker's office to postpone the town hall meetings regarding the possible acquisition of the Navajo Generating Station on Saturday in Hardrock Chapter and on Sunday in Kayenta Chapter.

Both chapter houses are being used by the communities as part of the winter weather response effort and the meetings are tentatively rescheduled for March 8-10, according to the speaker's office press release.

In the Northern Agency, Newcomb Chapter was among several chapter houses that remained open on Thursday and Friday.

"We feel we are essential to the community," Chapter Manager Norman Benally said adding employees have been clearing access roads and chopping wood for residents.

The senior citizen center in Newcomb was open Thursday and employees delivered food to high risk families on Friday, Benally added.

The weather caused hospitals and clinics under the Navajo Area Indian Health Service to close or close early Friday, according to an IHS press release.

Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock will continue to operate its regular hours and provide regular services, the release states.

Cold weather did not stop the graduation ceremony in Chinle, Arizona for the Navajo Police Academy Class 53.

Before the ceremony started, Nez talked about weather conditions in a video posted on his office's Facebook page.

"If you are able to stay home, stay home," Nez said adding crews from the Navajo Division of Transportation are removing snow from roads.

Also providing services are the Navajo Police Department and Community Health Representatives from the tribe's Department of Health, he added.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at