Snow and wind blow into N.M. from Ariz.

Snow and wind blankets New Mexico, threatens to trigger wildfires.

SILVER CITY, N.M. | March 19, 2012


walking cars snow

Heavy snow and wind from Arizona blanketed parts of western and northern New Mexico early Monday, causing power outages and threatening to trigger wildfires.

The western part of New Mexico was hit hardest, with up to 10 inches covering the mountainous Continental Divide of the Americas, the National Weather Service said.

The divide separates watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those that drain into the Atlantic.

Santa Fe, which received more than an inch of snow Sunday night, was expected to get up to 3 inches, with surrounding ski areas "looking at anywhere from 6 to 9 inches," weather service meteorologist Todd Shoemake told the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Power company PNM Resources Inc. said about 33,000 customers lost power across the state Sunday, but about half of them had power restored Sunday night.

Most of the state was under a high-wind advisory as damaging winds reaching up to 60 mph whipped across generally dry land, the weather service reported.

Trees were uprooted and dust storms plagued the elevated West Mesa landmass near Albuquerque west of the Rio Grande River.

The New Mexico Environmental Health Department's Air Quality Division issued a fugitive-dust high-wind notice until Monday.

Albuquerque International Sunport reported major flight delays and cancellations due to high winds.

Red-flag warnings of possible wildfires were issued for the eastern third of the state. The warnings are issued by the weather service after drought conditions when high or erratic winds are also forecast to include lightning.

In Arizona, the weather service said Flagstaff and the surrounding area remained under a winter-storm warning all day Monday after some parts of Arizona's high country received more than 5 feet of snow.

A winter storm warning was in effect from the Mexican border to the northern outskirts of Utah, the weather service said.

In the Flagstaff area, visibility was down to a quarter mile with heavy snow and fog late Sunday, Tucson's Arizona Daily Star reported.

Officials temporarily closed Interstate 40 in parts of northern Arizona and I-17 around Flagstaff where it intersects with I-40.

They also closed I-10 through southern New Mexico for a short time due to weather.

Tucson had rain early Monday, with low temperatures in the mid-30s.

Flagstaff's Arizona Daily Sun said Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff canceled classes Monday and residents were urged to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.


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