Ice, snow cover some New Mexico roads after storms; Albuquerque warns drivers

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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Parts of central and northern New Mexico received a record-breaking snowfall overnight, with more expected throughout the weekend, weather officials said.

Meteorologist Todd Shoemake said more snow and rain is expected in the state's north-central and northwest areas, with the impact hitting the northern mountains. Albuquerque, however, saw a lighter snowfall Saturday, though residents might not have been able to tell.

"Most of Albuquerque has had anywhere from 4 to 10 inches of snow. It's really kind of crippled the city," Shoemake said.

About 4.7 inches of snow blanketed the city Saturday. Meteorologist Jason Frazier said the precipitation in the next couple of days would likely take the form of a "rain-snow mix" or just more rain.

Albuquerque and Santa Fe have received as much as 1 inch of snow per hour for several hours since Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The Weather Service said a "snow band" developed over both cities, which have been brought to a standstill by slick and icy roads.

Officials at Albuquerque International Sunport said Southwest Airlines canceled all incoming and outgoing flights Saturday. Other airlines have only canceled specific flights. Travelers were advised to call ahead of time and check on the status of their flight. According to officials, the runways were clear Saturday afternoon with some aircraft arriving. However, expected snow could change conditions at any time.

Albuquerque city spokeswoman Rhiannon Schroeder said that all non-essential city services were closed Saturday. But crews were working "diligently" to maintain major roads and access to hospitals. Workers were up before dawn plowing, salting and cindering the roads.

Some areas still presented difficult driving conditions because of snow-packed or icy roadways, the state Department of Transportation reported early Saturday. Those areas included a 150-mile stretch of Interstate 25 between Rowe and Raton, a 150-mile segment of U.S. 64 from Agua Fria to Clayton, and 70 miles along I-40 between Clines Corners and Newkirk.

Officials are warning motorists to stay off roadways because of difficult driving conditions. Albuquerque police said Friday night they were experiencing a high volume of calls about traffic accidents. As a result, they were only responding to incidents involving injuries.

This marks the third in a train of storms to hit the region since Thursday, Shoemake said. The storms are connected to a system that also brought wintry weather to parts of west and northern Texas. The second one led to Albuquerque and Rio Rancho closing public schools Friday because of highways and roads covered in ice and snow.

A storm system in California was also predicted to spread moisture eastward to Arizona and New Mexico by Monday.

According to the National Weather Service, a two-day snowfall accumulation as of 5 p.m. Saturday at the Albuquerque International Sunport was 9.6 inches. That is the 9th heaviest snow since 1931. The last time more than 8 inches fell in a two-day period was 2006, meteorologists said.

"Our average amount of snowfall during a calendar year is 9.6," Frazier said. "So, we are having our average snowfall just in three days."

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