City prepares for heavy snow

Kevin Wilson

It won’t take much to make today the snowiest this season for eastern New Mexico.

But indications are that Mother Nature will bring a lot more than the dustings we’ve had thus far.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque has issued a winter weather advisory for snow and blowing snow. Winds of up to 26 mph are predicted with snow ranging from 2 to 5 inches.

Eastern New Mexico has avoided snow for the most part, with just a few dustings since November.

Portales doesn’t have snow plows, said Jerry Rose of the city’s street department. There is a salt truck loaded up and a pair of road graders for various areas.

“It will be the main streets, like 18th, Avenue I around the college and around the (elementary) schools, because that’s where the traffic is going to be,” Rose said.

Portales’ two busiest roads, First and Second streets, also serve as U.S. 70, and are maintained by the state.

Area schools try not to make early predictions one way or the other.

“Unless it’s really bad in the evening, we wait until 6 a.m.,” Portales Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said. Both Portales and Clovis schools will update media and websites regarding delays or closures.

Eastern New Mexico University will make the same notifications, and could either cancel the entire day or cancel all classes before a certain time.

“Either one is a possibility at this point,” said Wendel Sloan of the school’s communications office.

Lisa Spencer of Clovis Community College said the final call on snow goes to Executive Vice President Becky Rowley. However, Rowley’s rule of thumb has been to follow the Clovis schools lead, because many of their students are either parents or dual enrollment students.

Clovis Public Works Director Clint Bunch said his department was operating with a skeleton crew Monday afternoon. He said he sent most of his employees home early — they will be needed in the late evening and early morning today.

What crews remained, he said, were busy prepping equipment for the snow.

“We’ll have six snowplows out and four sand and salt spreaders,” Bunch said, “and possibly, if it’s blowing like they say … we’ll get two road graders out.”

Bunch said arterial roads are the ones that receive city priority —