Route 66 News

Snow of the century

Albuquerque and much of the northern half of New Mexico experienced record snowfall with the latest winter storm.

The National Weather Service in Albuquerque reported that 11.3 inches of snow fell in one day Friday, breaking the old one-day record of 9.3 inches, set in 1958, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

According to latest data from the NWS, parts of Albuquerque will end up with at least 26 inches of snow from this storm. Several parts of New Mexico, such as Clayton, have reported more than 30 inches and drifts up to 15 feet tall.

Much of Interstate 40, which shadows Route 66 in the region, was closed until Saturday clear to Amarillo.

At least one Route 66 motel in Tucumcari benefited from all the closed interstates, reported the Albuquerque Tribune.

Working the front desk at the Buckaroo Motel in Tucumcari, Amber Meguire said Friday that the motel has rented out eight of their nine rooms to stranded motorists, mainly from Amarillo.

“It’s snowing now, but it’s dangerous because (the roads) are starting to ice up,” said Meguire. “People have been coming in saying they’ve tried all the other places in town, looking for a room.”

Chantal at Duke City Fix made interesting observations about the record snowstorm. Also, the blog has pooled together excellent snow photos from its contributors.

UPDATE: Eastbound I-40 and northbound I-25 out of Albuquerque are still closed as of about noon Sunday, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The Amarillo Globe-News reports that Clayton, N.M., has four feet of snow on the ground from the storm. “There are drifts as high as buildings,” one person in Clayton told the reporter. Amarillo, however, avoided much of the heavy snowfall.

In the meantime, Duke City Fix compiled choice quotes from contributors about the historic winter storm.

UPDATE2: The Journal reports that eastbound I-40 travelers out of Albuquerque on Sunday night were being rerouted northward on I-25, then south on U.S. 84, where they would rejoin I-40 west of Santa Rosa. This is roughly the old alignment of Route 66 until the mid-1930s.

UPDATE3: I-40 was still closed east of Albuquerque because of a nasty 41-mile stretch east of Clines Corners, reported the Journal on Monday. Gov. Bill Richardson has declared it “the worst storm ever.” Few will disagree when they see the snowfall photos on the Journal’s main page.

According to today’s Amarillo Globe-News, the Route 66 towns of Adrian, Vega and Wildorado in the Texas Panhandle are without power. The sad part is some ranchers say they have cattle dying from the storm.

UPDATE4: I-40 from Albuquerque to the Texas line was reopened to traffic shortly before noon local time Monday, according to the New Mexico Department of Transportation. Road conditions were described as only “fair,” however.

UPDATE5: The Quay County Sun in Tucumcari has a remarkably comprehensive story about how the Route 66 town’s businesses and motels coped with the stranded travelers.