Winter storm blasts New Mexico with snow, cold

December 6, 2011 - 6:20 AM
Winter Blast New Mexico

Motorists tackle snow and ice on their morning commute in Corrales, N.M., as the state was slammed with severe winter weather Monday, Dec. 5, 2011. Heavy snow, up to a foot in some parts of New Mexico, closed dozens of schools Monday and forced authorities around the state to respond to a number of minor accidents. A winter storm warning remains in effect in New Mexico until Tuesday. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A severe winter blast has struck most of New Mexico, closing hundreds of schools and shutting down major highways across the state.

Motorists sought emergency shelter overnight as state officials closed both directions of Interstate 40 from Albuquerque to Gallup — part of the historic Route 66 — after blowing snow caused near-zero visibility.

Authorities also shut down the state's entire length of Interstate 10, from the Texas line to the Arizona border, because of heavy snow and icy road conditions.

Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said aside from the heavy snowfall, New Mexico residents should expect "bitter cold" weather with temperatures 15 below zero in some parts.

Severe weather even brought snow to southern New Mexico — a region usually spared the worst of winter blasts.