A small army of snowmen popped up on the Santa Fe Plaza on Thursday as visitors, locals and snow-worshippers gathered to build them while enjoying a break between two winter storms sweeping through New Mexico.
Welcome to Thanksgiving weekend, 2019.
The Santa Fe area received between 3 and 8 inches of snow late Wednesday and Thursday, and those who were inclined to play in the wintry white stuff will get another chance to do so Friday as a second storm, moving in from the West Coast, is expected to deliver rain and snow.
“This one’s going to be a snowmaker for the mountains,” said meteorologist Alyssa Clements of the National Weather Bureau in Albuquerque. “We’re looking at probably totals nearing a foot in the north-most peaks of the mountains.”
The Santa Fe area stands to get just another half-inch or so from the second storm, she said.
Thursday’s storm blanketed the northern part of the state. Albuquerque received 4 to 8 inches of snow and Taos got two to four inches, Clements said. It was the first time since 2008 that Santa Fe got snow on Thanksgiving.
Bad weather was no friend of those heading through New Mexico, but for those who didn’t have to go far, it looked like a blast.
On one corner of the Plaza, visitors from Chicago and Tucson built a snow octopus, its tentacles reaching out over the snow base of some 3 to 4 inches that the first storm left behind as it moved east and out of the state Thursday.
By far the largest snowman — at least nine feet — on the Plaza was built by members of the Ponce Herrera family, whose 11 members hailed from Texas and Mexico.
Many of them had never seen or experienced the wonder of snow, said Carlos Ponce Herrera of Houston, who initiated the creation of the snowman — dubbed Mr. Blizzard by those who built him.
Snow, Ponce Herrera said “can definitely make us kids again. We didn’t come here to build a snowman, but when I saw the snow, knowing it was the first time for some of them, I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ ”
Clements said that while Friday’s expected precipitation won’t match the first storm, it could bring even more difficult road conditions.
“Anything remaining on the roads from the first storm is going to refreeze Thursday night, and it’s definitely going to be slippery as commuters and travelers head out [Friday],” Clements said.
Thanks to reduced traffic on the Thanksgiving holiday, the Santa Fe Police Department only reported six vehicle accidents, Lt. Sean Strahon said Thursday afternoon.
He, too, urged caution when traveling on Black Friday, when shoppers hunt for Christmas bargains.
New Mexico State Police spokesman Ray Wilson said officers responded to seven crashes along Interstate 25 in the Santa Fe area and another 12 along the highway in the Las Vegas, N.M., district. Those accidents “mainly entail vehicles sliding off the road and minor collisions,” he said. “None have been reported to be serious.”
On Thursday, Vince Gonzales and Dylan Wrobel, 20-somethings who live in the Rosario Hill neighborhood of Santa Fe, found a way to be on the roads and have fun. They were riding about the downtown area on bicycles Thursday, slipping and sliding and slushing their way through the snowy streets — and having something of a ball doing it.
They said their winter catch phrase — “When the bikes in snow, the gear’s in low” — made for a great holiday. And while neither one had what you might call all-weather tires on their bikes, they somehow avoided the havoc the snow caused others.
Not that everyone found their cycling routine amusing. Gonzales said that as they pedaled the downtown streets in the storm, they passed their share of “old boomers” who yelled out their car windows, “It’s pretty dangerous doing that.”
But, Wrobel said, next thing you know, they’d watch as those guys “skidded out at the next freaking light.”