New Mexico blasted by snow, wind and freezing temperatures

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Blowing snow and slick roads were creating hazardous travel conditions Monday for northern and central New Mexico, as officials warned residents and travelers that the worst was still to come.

Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said the storm system was expected to reach peak intensity Tuesday with widespread winter-like effects, especially in the high terrain and across eastern New Mexico. They also predicted record-setting snowfall for many areas in central and northern New Mexico, saying travel would be difficult, if not impossible, and that road closures were likely.

Up to 2 feet (0.61 meters) of snow was expected in the northern mountains, while there could be several inches to a foot in the central and eastern areas of the state. Forecasters said wind gusts between 35 and 50 mph (56 to 80 kph) also were possible along with freezing fog in the early hours.

In Albuquerque, the city deployed crews to clear and salt the roads over the next 48 hours as the winter storm warning would be in effect through Wednesday evening. The crews were focused on major emergency routes, bridges and intersections.

The moisture offered a much needed break for many parts of the state that have gone weeks without rain. According to the latest drought map, the entire state is suffering from moderate drought or worse. It's much different than last year, when just over one-third of the state was in that situation.