ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is getting ready for what could be a significant blast of winter.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque are warning residents and travelers that the above-normal temperatures and dry weather that New Mexico has been experiencing in recent weeks will come to an abrupt end Sun day.
That’s when a “potent” arctic front will move across the state, bringing with it cooler temperatures and gusty winds. Snow is expected across the northern mountains and the northeast plains Sunday morning, and it will to spread south throughout the day.
“It’s long overdue,” Ed Polasko of the National Weather Service told the Albuquerque Journal.
New Mexico has had little moisture over the past two years, resulting in much of the state having to struggle with some category of drought. So far, this year ranks as the warmest on record and the second driest in New Mexico.
The latest statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s climate center show the nationally averaged precipitation total of 1.19 inches for November was nearly an inch below the long-term average. That means last month was the eighth driest November on record for the U.S.
While New Mexico’s portion of the drought won’t end any time soon, everyone from water managers to farmers and ranchers say they will be glad to get even just a little moisture with Sunday’s storm.
Forecasters say significant snow accumulations are possible for the Sangre de Cristo Mountains south toward the Sandia Mountains and east of the central mountain chain toward Raton and Santa Rosa.
Travel along Interstate 25 from Glorieta Pass to the Colorado border and I-40 east of Tijeras Canyon could be hazardous thanks to the snow and wind chills that are predicted to dip into the single digits and below zero in some parts of northern New Mexico.
Melissa Dosher, a spokeswoman for the state Transportation Department, said about 80 dump trucks with snowplows and salt and cinder spreaders are loaded and ready to go in northeastern New Mexico.
The department’s Traffic Management Center, which monitors road conditions throughout the state, will also be fully staffed and road conditions will be updated on the department’s website — www.nmroads.com .