Blizzard hammers region

A blizzard that plowed through the South Plains, bringing the area to a standstill, was the worst the area has endured in more than a decade, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist.

The storm packing 50 mph wind gusts left a wake of power outages and schools closings across eastern New Mexico and West Texas. Whiteout conditions led to several area roads to be closed, including U.S. 60/84 from just west of Clovis to Santa Rosa and I-40 near Tucumcari.

staff photo: Tony Bullocks

A vehicle creeps though the intersection of Main and 7th Streets Monday morning, while a sign displays the current temperature in Clovis.

NWS Meteorologist Jennifer Palucki said snowfall across Roosevelt and Curry counties varied from as little as 1 inch to 4 inches in Portales and 1 to 9 inches in some areas of Clovis. She estimated an average snowfall total of 4 inches across the area. Muleshoe received 3.5 inches.

"We haven't issued a blizzard warning for Curry or Roosevelt County in over a decade," Palucki said. "It's bad. All areas got pretty healthy amounts of snow."

With the blizzard closing down roads across the region, conditions hampered response time to the 1,600 Clovis residents that were left without power Monday morning, according to Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves.

Reeves said they had about 20 customers in Clovis still without power as of 8:30 p.m. Monday night and he predicts some customers won't have power until this morning.

"We are evaluating our crew resources to determine how far into the night we can work," Reeves said. "Some customers may not be restored until Tuesday morning, but we'll do everything we can to restore the bulk of these tonight. All together we have had more than 8,000 without power at some point across our Texas-New Mexico service area."

Capt. Patrick Whitney with the Clovis police said the department received around 30 to 35 weather-related calls but was pleased that most people chose to stay off the roads.

The Clovis Police Department issued an alert asking residents to exercise caution and not drive during dangerous conditions because they were only going to respond to emergencies and accidents with injuries.

"I was very surprised that we didn't have more physical crashes," Whitney said.

CMI correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero

Xavier Gramzow, foreground, and Andrew Gramzow from Troy's

Landscape Maintenance clear sidewalks at Wells Fargo Bank Monday morning.

He did, however, have one report of an elderly man who died from a head wound in Clovis after slipping and falling while shoveling snow.

Whitney wants to remind residents to drive cautiously today as he predicts roads to be slippery, especially early in the morning.

"It won't be good in the morning, we'll have a lot of ice," Whitney said.

Capt. Jimmy Glascock with the New Mexico State Police said all reports of accidents were minor.

"We did have a police unit involved in a crash earlier this (Monday) morning in Portales," Glascock said. "We had a lot of vehicles that slid off the roadway that we helped but fortunately there were no serious accidents."

Glascock joins Whitney in urging people who have to drive cautiously and to watch for black ice.

Portales Chief of Police Doug Jones said his officers were checking cars that appeared to be abandoned earlier Monday to make sure no one was trapped in the snow but said no major accidents were reported.

School and college officials were up early Monday morning to make the official call to cancel classes, and some said the decision was a no-brainer.

Clovis schools Superintendent Terry Myers said he normally drives the roads on inclement weather days to make a judgment, but said he took one look outside this morning and canceled school without even getting in his vehicle.

Several schools have decided to delay the start of school Tuesday, with Texico canceling school.

Today's forecast is sunny with a high temperature near 43 degrees and wind gusts as high as 30 mph, according to the NWS.

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