ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - With winds gusting above 50 mph Albuquerque's normally blue skies gave way Saturday to flying grit and a health warning from the city's environmental agency.
The National Weather Service also is warning of damaging winds raking parts of the state into Saturday evening.
Late Saturday morning the city's Environmental Health Department issued a "Fugitive Dust/High Wind Notice" extending from 10:30 a.m. to through Sunday at 6 p.m.
The main issue is blowing dust creating particulate pollution that can affect people with existing health issues, according to the department. People with respiratory and heart ailments may want to stay indoors, limit physical activity and contact their health care provider if symptoms of heart or lung disease occur, the department added.
The National Weather Service reported a peak gust of 53 mph just south of the city at about 10:30 a.m. Other reported gusts include 54 mph near Estancia and 55 mph near Oscura in Lincoln County south of Carrizozo.
At midmorning the highest sustained winds reported were 38 mph near Estancia and Moriarty with later reports of steady winds of 54 mph near Las Vegas and 46 mph near Clines Corners on Interstate 40 in eastern New Mexico.
The weather service later logged these wind gusts:
- 69 mph near Fort Stanton in Lincoln County, 1:35 p.m.
- 68 mph 6 miles northeast of Las Vegas, 11:46 a.m.
- 64 mph 1 mile south-southeast of Clines Corners, 11:57 a.m.
- 60 mph near Dunken in southwestern Chaves County, 11:36 a.m.
The weather service also issued a high-wind warning for sustained winds up to 45 mph with gusts to 60 mph along and east of the state's central mountains and spreading to the Texas border.
Gusts to 60 mph also were forecast across southern New Mexico and adjacent areas of West Texas.
In southeastern New Mexico at about 3 p.m. authorities shut down State Route 2 at Dexter after blowing dust reduced visibility to zero.
The blame for all this falls on a Pacific storm system and associated cold front charging across the state.
By 3 p.m. snow reports included 2.5 inches at Chama, 2 inches near Gallup and 0.5 inches in the Farmington-Bloomfield area.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation reported roads to be snowpacked and icy in western Cibola and McKinley counties with fair driving conditions reported on Interstate 40 over the Continental Divide east of Gallup.
At midafternoon the snow had spread to Glorieta Pass on Interstate 25 east of Santa Fe. Driving conditions in the 15 miles around Rowe between Glorieta and Ilfeld were reported to be difficult with heavy snowfall starting to accumulate on the roadway.
NMDOT crews were out plowing, salting and cindering, an agency spokesman said.
A winter-storm warning is in effecting until 6 p.m. Sunday for much of western, northwestern and northern New Mexico with up to 14 inches of snow forecast for some higher-elevation locales.
KRQE.com Winter Weather Resource Guide » : Find road conditions, weather forecasts, ski conditions and more.
If you're looking for something fun to do with the kids this weekend, or if you just want to get into the holiday spirit yourself, head out the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.
This is something I would have wanted to do as a kid during my winter break: Destination Moon Camp! Here to tell us all about this is Michelle Watkins with the Challenger Learning Center New Mexico.
Dinner rolls are a wonderful compliment to those holiday dishes, and shaping dough is quite easy.