LAS CRUCES – A winter storm system is expected to move into the Las Cruces area Wednesday bringing chances for rain and snow to southern New Mexico.
According to the National Weather Service El Paso, the system will approach from the west with scattered rain showers possible Wednesday afternoon. There is also a slight chance of rain Wednesday evening. Temperature highs Wednesday are expected to be in the 50s to near 60 degrees.
Meteorologist Joe DeLizio said only about a quarter of an inch of rain is expected for the area.
He explained that temperatures will begin to change in the overnight hours Wednesday. Scattered rain showers will continue to be possible, but cold air coming from the east will turn the precipitation into snow in some areas.
“There’ll be a few lingering snow showers basically throughout the rest of the day on Thursday. Right now, we (predict) about an inch or two potentially in the Las Cruces area,” DeLizio said.
He mentioned that a similar winter storm swept through the area about a year ago.
One point of concern is the drop in temperatures expected to reach below freezing beginning Wednesday evening. Temperature highs Thursday and Friday will “struggle” to reach 32 degrees while overnight temperatures will be in the teens, he said. Saturday is anticipated to warm slightly into the mid-40s, but this will still be below the normal temperatures for the weekend — which DeLizio said would be around 60 degrees.
Winds are forecast to remain in the range of 15 to 25 miles per hour the rest of the week.
Take precautions when driving this week as roads may be icy. Below freezing temperatures may also impact pipes in residences and businesses.
Farther north in the Sacramento Mountain area, snow is expected to accumulate about six to 10 inches — possibly even a foot. Snow chances will continue through Wednesday and Thursday with overnight lows near zero degrees. A winter weather watch is in effect for the area from Wednesday afternoon through late Thursday morning.
The New Mexico Department of Transportation announced Tuesday morning that personnel and equipment are prepared to support emergency efforts as the winter storm moves into southern New Mexico. They offered the following tips for driving during winter weather conditions:
Reduce your speed
Practice good winter driving techniques
Keep your gas tank full, turn on your headlights, keep your windshield washer fluid full with antifreeze, keep winter driving chains in your vehicle, have a winter survival kit that includes a flashlight, hand warmer packets, first aid supplies, high energy snacks, bottled water, medications and read your owner’s manual for special instructions on driving 4-wheel drive vehicles and vehicles with ABS on snow and ice.
Avoid driving in a snow cloud
Large vehicles, such as semi-trailer trucks and snowplows, may produce dense clouds of blowing snow that make it difficult for drivers to see. When drivers encounter snow clouds, they should stay back to avoid the cloud.
Plan ahead and be patient
Check before you pass
Pay attention to weather forecasts – trust them
Don’t use cruise control
Know your current road conditions
Wear your seatbelt
Northern and central New Mexico are expecting more severe winter weather as the storm moves into the state. NWS Albuquerque issued a winter storm warning affecting some areas from Tuesday afternoon through midday Thursday.
“New Mexicans, especially those in northern parts of the state, should be prepared for heavy snowfall, cold temperatures, and potentially dangerous driving conditions,” said Kelly Hamilton, deputy secretary of the state’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The department encourages residents impacted by power outages or other challenges caused by winter weather to contact local emergency managers. Assistance may also be available from the American Red Cross, which can be contacted by calling 800-842-7349.
The organizations also shared cold weather safety tips:
When you are outside, frostbite and hypothermia are possible.
Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing.
Wear a hat. Try to stay dry and out of the wind.
Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
To keep pipes from freezing: Let hot and cold water trickle or drip at night from a faucet.
If pipes freeze:
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a silent, deadly killer — claiming about 1,000 lives each year in the United States.
Install a carbon monoxide detector.
NEVER run generators indoors.
Open a window slightly when using a kerosene heater and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
NEVER use a gas oven to heat your home.
Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces and heaters
Always keep a screen around an open flame.
NEVER use gasoline to start your fireplace.
NEVER burn charcoal indoors.
Animal and pet safety:
Bring pets inside.
Keep salt away from paws
Avoid driving during storms. If necessary:
Check your battery, fluids, and tires
Have jumper cables
Pack a blanket, a flashlight, and emergency food and water
Make sure your phone is charged before leaving
This article originally appeared on Las Cruces Sun-News: Snow showers, freezing temps expected in southern New Mexico