NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – NMDOT is warning drivers across much of southern New Mexico to be prepared for snow, strong winds and poor visibility starting this evening with another winter storm. Poor driving conditions are expected to last through Thursday, according to NMDOT.

The National Weather Service says southern NM drivers should expect strong wind gusts Wednesday and Thursday
The National Weather Service says southern New Mexico drivers should expect strong wind gusts Wednesday and Thursday, the first two days of March 2023. | Image Courtesy: NWS El Paso

In a news release Wednesday afternoon, state transportation officials say drivers in the Gila and Black Range region should be prepared for snow on the roadways. Lowland areas could “trace amounts,” according to NMDOT, citing forecasts from the National Weather Service.

Meteorologists in the KRQE News 13 Weather Center are projecting wind gusts over 45 mph for all areas south of US-60, the east-west highway in southern Valencia County, just south of Veguita. Dust storms, blowing debris, wind damage and difficult driving is expected for the next 36 hours in New Mexico’s southeast plains.

Over the last month, windy weather has caused authorities to shutdown parts of I-10 for hours due to poor visibility. In Albuquerque, a wind storm last week caused several giant freeway light poles to bend and sway amid strong gusts.

NMDOT offers these tips to prepare for blinding dust storms on the road:

  • Avoid driving into or through a dust storm.
  • Do not wait until poor visibility makes it difficult to safely pull off the roadway — do it as soon as possible. Completely exit the highway if you can.
  • If you encounter a dust storm, check traffic immediately around your vehicle (front, back and to the side) and begin slowing down.
  • Do not stop in the roadway; pull completely out of the travel lanes and as far onto the right shoulder as possible.
  • Stop the vehicle in a position ensuring it is a safe distance from the main roadway and away from where other vehicles may travel.
  • Turn off all vehicle lights, including your emergency flashers.
  • Set your emergency brake and take your foot off the brake.
  • Stay in the vehicle with your seat belts buckled and wait for the storm to pass.
  • Drivers of high-profile vehicles should be especially aware of changing weather conditions and travel at reduced speeds.