Winter weather woes

By Casey Peacock: PNT staff writer

Stormy conditions caused some problems for Portales and Roosevelt County as a winter storm that produced ice, rain, lightning, two inches of snow and winds that ranged up to 35 mph moved out of the area Wednesday.

The Portales Police Department responded to a few accidents that occurred in the city, said Capt. Lonnie Berry. A few motorists were stranded out on the highways, due to vehicle problems. After receiving the calls, deputies and tow trucks were dispatched to help the motorists, according to Berry. He said no major accidents were reported.

“The motorists, didn’t spend long periods of time stuck,” said Berry.

A police foot chase occurred around 9 p.m. Tuesday night at the height of the storm, according to Berry. A motorist, pulled over for a DUI, fled while undergoing a field sobriety test. After fleeing, the suspect was eventually caught in a field, where he had fled on foot, said Berry.

According to Berry, there are anywhere from 300 to 600 people in the county who are home-bound or rely on oxygen. This could lead to potential problems if a power outage or blackout were to occur. Plans and extra personnel have been put in place to handle this type of situation, if it were to arise, he said. Officers, if called out, will be able to respond within 30 minutes, said Berry.

“We will do it as long as the weather is bad. We will be prepared to handle any situation,” said Berry.

Dropping temperatures, could also contribute to continued hazardous conditions. Colder temperatures, combined with the melt-off on the streets, could cause the roads to become slick again, said Berry.

Icy conditions caused several power outages across the county, said Jerry Partin, Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative general manager. Areas affected were in the western, southwestern and southern parts of the county, mainly from Elida to Causey.

“So far, damage as been minimal for RCEC,” Partin said. “We’ve lost about six poles altogether,” said Partin.

Melting ice and slapping lines also continued to cause problems for RCEC on Wednesday. Wednesday afternoon there were about 10 to 12 residences in the Pep and Kenna areas that were still without power. Partin said Wednesday that crews were working to get the power back on and locate other power outages.

“Sometimes we have to wait for reports to come in before we can isolate the problem,” said Partin.

According to the National Weather Service, conditions are expected to improve on Thursday and Friday. Thursday’s forecast calls for mostly sunny conditions, with a high near 45 degrees and winds to be 10 to 15 mph. Friday’s temperatures call for a high near 50, with partly cloudy skies and winds to 10 mph.