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Snow leads to closures, hinders travel

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Alex Ross Photo A school bus travels down West Alameda Street Tuesday at noon in Roswell.

Roswell experienced its first significant snowfall of 2020 Tuesday, producing hazardous driving conditions and school closures.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning Tuesday for eastern and central New Mexico to remain in effect until 6 a.m. today. A total of 2 to 6 inches was forecast for the Chaves County Plains and nearby Curry and Roosevelt counties.

Snow, combined with streets awash in slush and heavy fog, made traveling hazardous.

Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the city of Roswell, said Tuesday afternoon both of the city’s salt-spreading trucks were out working the city’s most traveled streets, as well as roads with hospitals and schools.

Roswell Police responded to numerous accidents throughout the city Tuesday morning, Wildermuth said. He added that he had not heard of any of the accidents resulting in serious injuries.

Chaves County Sheriff Mike Herrington said deputies responded to a series of minor vehicle wrecks, including a rollover of a truck and trailer on U.S. Highway 82 heading toward Mayhill, and another rollover on U.S. Route 70 at mile marker 305 heading toward Ruidoso.

A motorist accidentally struck a deputy’s patrol unit from behind at the intersection of Main and Fifth streets.

Herrington said he did not know of any injuries resulting from any of the accidents, but urged people to wait out the storm at home and limit their travel.

“As it starts to get colder and darker, the roads are going to freeze over and it’s going to get bad,” Herrington said.

Justin Powell, fire chief of Dexter Fire & Rescue, said there were no accidents or road closures in or around Dexter as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, but said he noticed some possible signs of danger — such as motorists driving with snow-covered windows.

People using public transportation faced inconveniences.

Pecos Trails Transit shut down their Route 6 bus route due to the weather. Buses continued to run on all other routes, but were an hour behind schedule.

Three flights scheduled to come into Roswell Tuesday — one from Phoenix and two from Dallas — were canceled, according to Scott Stark, director of the Roswell Air Center.

Weather conditions prompted Roswell schools to release students early. School districts in Dexter, Hagerman and Lake Arthur released students at 1 p.m.

Afternoon and evening classes at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell were canceled, according to a post on the university’s Facebook page.

Though most city departments remained open during their regular operating hours, Roswell Municipal Court closed at 1:30 p.m. An automated phone message indicated Chaves County Magistrate Court was closed Tuesday afternoon.

A press release from the city stated that sanitation trucks had stopped trash pickups for the day Tuesday. Most trash from receptacles in alleys and curbside were picked up, but some were missed and will not be serviced until Friday.

The forecast for today calls for any snow to end in the morning with the rest of the day remaining clear and dry with a high of about 34, Chuck Jones, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said Tuesday.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.