State emergency management officials urge residents to prepare for winter weather

Santa Fe, NM – The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM) is encouraging New Mexicans to prepare for potentially severe weather beginning on Thursday December 23rd. The National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts strong winds and snowfall across parts of the state.

“For northern and central New Mexico, this will be the third wind event in less than two weeks,” said DHSEM Secretary Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim. “Please be prepared for heavy winds, cold temperatures, and potentially dangerous driving conditions due to snow and ice. The State Emergency Operations Center is activated and is ready to support our local communities.”

According to NWS Albuquerque:


* WHAT: West winds 30 to 45 mph with gusts up to 65 mph possible.

* WHERE: Central Highlands, South Central Highlands, South Central Mountains, East Slopes Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains and Northeast Highlands.

* WHEN: From Thursday evening through late Friday night.

* IMPACTS: Damaging winds could blow down trees and power lines. Power outages are possible. Travel could be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.”

The strongest winds are forecast for the central mountain chain and adjacent east slopes, where gusts may reach from 60-70 mph for the third time in two weeks, producing another round of damage. A few to several inches of snow accumulation are expected in the Tusas, Sangre de Cristo, Jemez, and Chuska Mountains with the greatest amounts potentially reaching 1-2 feet in the mountains near the Colorado border.

Below are some important high winds safety tips from the National Weather Service:

The safest place to during high winds is indoors.

  • Postpone outdoor activities if a wind advisory or high wind warning has been issued.

If you are caught outside during high winds:

  • Take cover next to a building or under a shelter.
  • Stand clear of roadways or train tracks, as a gust may blow you into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
  • Use handrails where available on outdoor walkways and avoid other elevated areas such as roofs without adequate railing.
  • Watch for flying debris. Tree limbs may break and street signs may become loose during strong wind gusts. Keep an eye toward nearby balconies for loose objects that may fall.

In the event of a downed power line:

  • Call for help. Report downed lines to your local utility emergency center and to the police. Do not try to free lines or to remove debris yourself.
  • Avoid anything that may be touching downed lines, including vehicles or tree branches. Puddles and even wet or snow-covered ground can conduct electricity in some cases. Warn others to stay away.
  • If you see someone who has been shocked who may be in direct or indirect contact with a power line, do not try to touch them. You may become a second victim. Get medical attention as quickly as possible by calling 911.
  • If a line falls on your car, stay inside the vehicle. Take care not to touch any of the metal frame of your vehicle. Honk your horn, roll down the window and warn anyone who may approach of the danger. Ask someone to call the police. Do not exit the car until help arrives, unless it catches on fire. To exit, open the door, but do not step out. Jump, without touching any of the metal portions of the car’s exterior, to safe ground and get quickly away.

If you are driving:

  • Keep both hands on the wheel and slow down.
  • Watch for objects blowing across the roadway and into your path.
  • Keep a safe distance from cars in adjacent lanes as strong gusts could push a car outside its lane of travel.
  • Take extra care in a high-profile vehicle such as a truck, van, SUV, or when towing a trailer, as these are more prone to be pushed or even flipped by high wind gusts.
  • If winds are severe enough to prevent safe driving, get onto the shoulder of the road and stop, making sure you are away from trees or other tall objects that could fall onto your vehicle. Stay in the car and turn on the hazard lights until the wind subsides.

For more winter safety recommendations, please see:


DHSEM works to protect the people of New Mexico and the nation through a comprehensive and coordinated program of mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies, preventing attacks, and recovering from disasters. The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office is part of DHSEM beginning on July 1, 2021.