New Mexico is in the midst of a three-storm punch that will hit the state this week, but it’s the second one in the series that is expected to have the biggest impact.
Monday saw an initial system bring mostly wind, clouds and cold with the sporadic precipitation across the state, but that was merely the precursor for the next round that will enter the state Tuesday night.
National Weather Service meteorologist Daniel Porter said forecasts indicate the next storm front will blanket most of the state with rain, snow or a mixture of the two, with the northern half seeing at least 2 inches of snow in the lower elevations and a foot or more in the mountain ranges. Porter said models suggest temperatures across the state will be between 20-30 degrees colder than normal and could lead to icing on roads, especially on Interstate 25 between Glorieta and Raton passes.
Porter said conditions will deteriorate quickly Tuesday night and continue into Wednesday.
“The atmosphere will be plenty and sufficiently cold enough to support snow for most locations across New Mexico,” Porter said.
Santa Fe could see 2 to 4 inches by the end of Wednesday, but Porter said northeasterly winds of 15-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph could bring that total down by pushing precipitation farther east into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. That also means Las Vegas, N.M. could see significant snowfall amounts — up to 8 inches, according to current models.
High winds could potentially lead to blowing snow conditions from the Central Highlands into the northeast part of the state. Porter said some areas in the north might encounter freezing fog Thursday morning as the storm pushes out of New Mexico, which will lead to slick or icy road conditions.
If wind conditions diminish, Porter added it could mean higher amounts of snow in Santa Fe.
“You could end up on the upper end of that window, and possibly up to the 6-inch range,” Porter said. “There are several factors in play with the Santa Fe/Albuquerque areas, and wind is going to be one of those big factors. Current indicators suggest 2 to 4 inches.”
Once that storm system leaves, a third one will skim the northern border, affecting mostly the Four Corners area, Chama and Taos. Santa Fe has a 20 percent chance of precipitation, but Porter said it will be nothing like what the second storm will bring. However, wind will accompany the system and affect much of the state.
“This storm system moves pretty quickly to the east and just leaves some lingering morning and possibly early afternoon winter weather across the northern tier of the state,” Porter said.
Conditions are expected to improve quickly over the weekend, with highs forecast in the low 60s in the Santa Fe area by Sunday.