Local officials brace for winter storm

By Clarence Plank: PNT Staff Writer

Eastern New Mexico is bracing for a winter storm that could dump up to 7 inches of snow and glaze streets and roads over with sleet.

School officials will be keeping an eye on things to see if schools need to be canceled or delayed as the storm was expected to begin developing early today.

Curry County and Clovis Emergency Management Director Ken De Los Santos said all city and county departments were put on alert Wednesday evening.

“The city public works has a plan based on the amount of snow and ice we receive,” De Los Santos said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Brent Wachter in Albuquerque said Portales and Clovis will likely be getting a wintry mix.

“Right now, our forecast is calling for 4 to 7 inches of snowfall, but there is probably going to be sleet mixed in,” Wachter said. “So a mixture of a lot of different things in the morning, then changing over to snow by late morning into the afternoon.”

The high is going to be in the upper 20s to lower 30s and the snow could stick around for a couple of days especially if snowfall totals 8 inches or more, said Wachter.

Wachter said to expect wind gusts of up to 35 mph.

Spokesman Wes Reeves said Xcel Energy has a storm team in place and an emergency plan ready to implement.

“Right now, we are working to see where our service personnel are located,” Reeves said. “We won’t know until the storm gets here about where the worst damage is going to be. So, we’ll have to turn on a dime when that happens so we can pull crews in from other areas to take care of problems.”

Reeves said customers can call 1-800-895-1999 to report power outages.

“We’re asking customers to provide as much information as they can,” Reeves said. “If there is a tree down, forward that information along during the call.”

County and city schools had plans in place to let parents, teachers and students know by early Thursday morning if classes would be canceled or delayed.

Dora Principal David Bass said they send text messages, call the local radio and TV stations.

“We’re liable to be doing that in the morning, but we have to wait and see,” Bass said.

Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker said stay tuned to local radio and TV stations for weather warnings or closures and delays that come up.

“If you do not have to travel, then don’t,” Hooker said. “If you do have to travel to work or for necessities, just make sure you have items in your vehicle if you’re going a long way.”

Hooker suggested blankets, water and cold weather gear.