Roswell did not have a white Christmas, but a winter storm that began early Friday could mean a white New Year for Chaves County.
A Winter storm warning is in effect for Chaves, Roosevelt, De Baca, Curry and Quay counties as well as the eastern portion of Lincoln county until noon today, according to the website of the National Weather Service.
“Widespread light to moderate snow accumulation will continue late today, then snow will begin to decrease in coverage and intensity tonight. The central and south central mountains, and their adjacent high plains, will be favored for the most additional snow accumulation late today, then the east side of the south central mountains will be favored tonight into Saturday morning,” according to the winter weather warning posted on the National Weather Service website Friday afternoon.
Heavy snow fell in Roswell throughout the day Friday and the National Weather Service forecast predicted snow would continue throughout the night and be heavy at times, with additional snowfall of two to four inches possible.
As of late Friday afternoon, a 40 percent chance of snow was forecast for Saturday before 11 a.m., with new snow of less than half an inch possible.
The city of Roswell began bracing for the impending storm Thursday. A press release from the city announced that Friday all publicly accessible city buildings would be used as warming centers during their regular operating hours, for people seeking refuge from the snow and low temperatures.
Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the city, stated in an email late Friday that few people came to use the warming centers. He added a sampling of several city buildings at 2:30 p.m. showed that only two people went to use a city building to get warmed up.
“Both of these people came into city hall this morning for a little while,” Wildermuth stated in the email.
Other city buildings did not see any people show up specifically for the warming centers, the email continued.
The Pecos Valley Transit Terminal and the Roswell Public Library typically have homeless people come in on most days, regardless of weather, but Wildermuth said neither location saw a big uptick in activity Friday.
City buildings that will be open and used as warming centers Sunday include the transit terminal, library, the Adult Recreation Center at 807 North Missouri Avenue, the Roswell Museum and Art Center at 1011 North Richardson Ave and the visitors center at 426 North Main Street.
Despite the snow, frigid temperatures and lower visibility, Wildermuth said Roswell Police on Friday only responded to two accidents that were related to slick roads.
At 7:15 a.m. a vehicle slid off the road and hit a fence on West Earl Cummings Loop and Southwest Way. A similar incident took place shortly before 9 a.m. when a vehicle lost control and hit a fence in the 50 block of G Street.
Chaves County Sheriff Britt Snyder said Friday afternoon that deputies had responded to few accidents or vehicles that were stuck because of weather conditions, but predicted that conditions would become more treacherous Friday night and into today.
Wildermuth said the city deployed two salt trucks at 3 a.m Friday to put down salt on the city’s main streets before the snow first fell, so that the snow would melt as soon as it hit the ground.
Two trucks were scheduled to be deployed on a second shift Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight, and another shift was planned for 4 a.m. Saturday.
“The strategy is to keep salt on the roads so the moisture won’t freeze on the roads,” Wildermuth stated in the email.
He said that no city roads had been closed because of the storm as of Friday. According to the website of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, U.S. 380 from mile marker 152 to 180, and U.S. 285 from mile marker 117 to 147 had difficult driving conditions.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at email@example.com.