Water poses new challenges as snow melts

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A truck plows though water Monday at Seventh and Mitchell streets. This was one of numerous intersections and streets facing drainage problems from melting snow in the aftermath of last week’s winter storm.

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

As anybody driving through Clovis could attest, Thursday’s snowfall wreaked havoc on the roads. With the snow melting, a new set of challenges await Clovis drivers.

Clovis received between 6 and 8 inches of snow Thursday, according to meteorologist Kerry Jones of the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office. It ended up canceling two days of school, postponing numerous sports events and making motorists change their definition of what was a necessary trip.

The remainder of that snow is either scattered on sidewalks, deposited in large piles on the roads or already melted into bodies of water along roads.

The snow accumulation translates to about 0.7 inches of rain, not including the freezing rain early Monday morning that first preceded the snow, Jones said.

“We always have to keep our drains open and clean,” Clovis Public Works Director Clint Bunch said, “keep the snow and ice out of the gutter.”

Bunch said more than water, potholes are the biggest post-snow headaches for motorists and city workers.

“The ice we got plays havoc,” Bunch said. “The water gets in (cracks in the road), it turns to ice and potholes pop out.”

The National Weather Service put out a release early Monday that warned New Mexico residents more snowfall was coming, but Jones doubts eastern New Mexico has much to worry about.

“This system is going to be a little too warm for widespread snow in Clovis,” Jones said. “The one concern we have Wednesday night is there may be a mixed phase where we get a mix of freezing rain and wet snow.”

Bunch said the biggest problem with the roads wasn’t the snow, but the freezing rain that created a layer of ice on the roads — “You can’t plow ice,” he said. Otherwise, he felt the city handled the issue well with all of its road equipment out on a 24-hour basis.