PLACITAS, New Mexico — A deadly winter storm system that struck New Mexico over the weekend left difficult driving conditions Monday, and forced officials around the state to cancel or delay school and government office openings.
In the small community of Placitas, just northeast of Albuquerque, motorists struggled to wheel through hilly roads slick with ice next to the Sandia Mountains. South of Placitas, a three-car crash officials believe was likely caused by road conditions resulted in minor injuries for a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy and another motorist.
Meanwhile, in Santa Fe, residents worked to shovel out of an area that saw between 5 inches and 9 inches by Sunday. Santa Fe Police Chief Ray Rael told the Santa Fe New Mexican that there had been 10 accidents since Saturday, three of which resulted in minor injuries. On Friday, state police reported that a 4-year-old girl from Clovis died in a weather-related accident in Roosevelt County.
State police also said Kathleen Hunt, 53, was killed Saturday in a weather-related crash on Interstate 40 while a passenger in a pickup truck outside Gallup.
Eastern New Mexico University in Portales canceled classes for Monday and Tuesday due the heavy snow and schools in Clovis also opted to close.
Roosevelt County Emergency Management Director Keith Wattenbarger said icy roads caught many people off guard, resulting in more than 40 automobile accidents in that eastern New Mexico county.
Wattenbarger said he's now worried about U.S. 70 becoming icy Monday night.
"Don't travel at all unless you have to," he said. "The schools did the right thing. I think that was an excellent decision because it's better to not congest the roads."
School districts in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Rio Rancho delayed their openings Monday by two hours.
The National Weather Service says snowfall will continue Monday in northern and central New Mexico before tapering off Monday night, with accumulations of 1 to 2 inches possible in high country and 1 inch elsewhere.
Severe driving conditions are reported on 20 miles of Interstate 25 south of Raton, with difficult conditions on I-25 between Colmor and Tinaja.