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County residents urged to prepare for winter storm

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Below freezing temperatures reach the Roswell area Saturday morning, as Pecos Trails Transit passengers are bundled up while awaiting their bus. Forecasts call for “potentially dangerous” conditions of freezing temperatures, fog, snow and wind for the next few days. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Weather forecasts still predict “potentially dangerous” weather of below-freezing temperatures, snow and wind for most of New Mexico, including Chaves County, which began Saturday night, to continue at least until Monday night.

Freezing drizzle that melted before reaching the ground was being experienced in the Roswell area by early Saturday afternoon, accompanied by temperatures of about 28 degrees.

“It is going to be a high-impact event and the best thing that people can do is just stay home. Stay off the roads,” said Alyssa Clements, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “If they have to travel, they need to make sure they are prepared — that they have a preparedness kit in their car, they tell people where they are going and they take it slow. It is going to be dangerous the next couple of days.”

She added that roads are expected to remain icy at least through Monday, as temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing until Tuesday.

According to information on the National Weather Service website, snow was expected to begin accumulating on the ground in the Roswell area sometime after dark on Saturday night and to continue to fall until this afternoon or tonight. About 4 inches of snow could gather in the local area.

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Temperatures are expected to be below freezing Saturday evening through all of Monday, with temperatures as low as -1 degrees on early Monday morning. On Tuesday, the high is expected to be about 47 degrees.

Winds that cause blowing snow and freezing fog and drizzle are anticipated in Chaves County and southeastern New Mexico starting Saturday evening until late tonight.

National, state and local officials offered some updates on Saturday afternoon.

• The city of Roswell Streets Department was monitoring the weather on Saturday and planned to begin salting major streets just before snow begins to fall, according to city spokesman Todd Wildermuth.

• American Airlines announced the cancellations of a round-trip flights on Saturday and a round-trip flight on Sunday due to the winter storm. “Additional cancellations may be possible as winter weather continues to impact large portions of the country,” said Andrew Trull, a media representative with American.

• The New Mexico Department of Health announced that hotels and other lodging establishments can use their discretion in expanding hotel occupancy beyond COVID restrictions, as long as they remain in compliance with Fire Marshal codes and other COVID-safe practices.

• Roswell-Chaves County Office of Emergency Management recommended that people protect their “pipes, pets and plants.” A National Weather Service public service announcement said water should be allowed to drip from pipes and heat turned on inside the house to prevent pipes from freezing. According to that advisory, pets should be brought inside, provided warm shelter and fresh water, and kept away from salt on the ground. If they do come in contact with salt, their paws should be cleaned. People also should be careful using wood-burning devices and should monitor carbon dioxide.

• The National Weather Service also has recommended that people stay inside and at home. Enrique Moreno, head of the Roswell Community Disaster Relief Services, said his group will have its bus near the Pioneer Plaza area off of North Main Street from about 8 p.m. Saturday through Sunday for people in need of food, hot beverages and supplies to stay warm.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.