By the Chronicle and Taos News
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011 1:42 PM MST
Cold Snap Hits Area Communities Prepare For Emergency
By Joe Warron (Editor/Publisher)
ANGEL FIRE – A bitter cold snap hit Northern New Mexico with temperatures dropping well below zero. Overnight lows (Thursday (Feb. 3) hit -36 Fahrenheit in Angel Fire. In Black Lake the overnight low dropped to -33 according to National Weather Observer, Debbie Maloch. In Eagle Nest, at the elementary school, Principal Lee Mills said the school’s weather equipment recorded -46.7 as the overnight low on that end of the valley. Red River hit -21 overnight, Cimarron’s low was -17 and Taos hit -26 overnight. By noon in Angel Fire the temperatures warmed up to -16. All Cimarron Municipal Schools District classes were on as scheduled Thursday morning, but were let out at 1 pm, in Eagle Nest due to broken water lines. All valley children who attend school in Cimarron were also let out early as well. Officials with the Village of Angel Fire and Angel Fire Resort are meeting at 1:30 pm, to devise an emergency plan for warm shelters for people in the event electricity service gets strained due to the mass natural gas service disruptions in Taqos, Questa and Red River. The fear by officials at Kit Carson Electric is that there will be more drain on the grid as the natural gas supply is halted to those communities and more people will need to plug their electric heaters in to stay warm. An update on Angel Fire’s emergency plan will be posted as soon as the meeting is over.
New Mexico Gas Announces Mass Service Disruptions For Taos, Questa And Red River
By Chandra Johnson (The Taos News)
Countless New Mexicans won’t be able to get natural gas indefinitely, as the company posted an announcement on its website Thursday morning (Feb. 3) that rolling blackouts in Texas have disrupted pipeline delivery. Among the areas without gas service are Taos, Red River, Questa, Española, Placitas, Alamogordo, all of Otero County and Silver City, the website said. Between Taos, Red River and Questa alone, the company estimates some 10,800 customers will be affected, especially in the freezing temperatures. In addition to not knowing when service would again be available, the company stated that “technicians will need to relight each home and business individually. A blue tag will be left to schedule a relight if you aren’t home when our technicians visit.” Citing the reason for the disruption, the company said that “rolling black-outs in West Texas have impeded the delivery of natural gas coming into New Mexico. Our pipeline system is intact and our crews are working to minimize the impact of this temporary situation.”
Questa Declares A State Of Emergency Amid Natural Gas Disruption, Red River Opens Fire Station For Shelter
By Chandra Johnson (The Taos News)
QUESTA – Questa Mayor Esther García told The Taos News Thursday morning (Feb. 3) that she and the village council will be declaring a state of emergency in light of the natural gas service disruption announced earlier Thursday by New Mexico Gas Co. “All the schools, businesses and the clinic are closed,” García said. “We also have a concern that people will be using so much electricity that we may not have any. Kit Carson has advised us against using too much electricity.” García said that the council will be meeting at 1 pm and that until then, she is asking area community centers in Cerro, Costilla and elsewhere to prepare to function as emergency shelters. So far, people in Questa without heat can meet at the Alta Vista school gymnasium for shelter. Red River officials said that it was opening its fire department for shelter there.
Kit Carson Co-op Prepares For Burden On Power Grid
By J.R. Logan (The Taos News)
TAOS – With the availability of gas unpredictable, many people have turned to electric space heaters for warmth. But the transition to electricity is expected to place a heavy burned on the regional electric grid. Kit Carson Electrical Cooperative CEO Luís Reyes told The Taos News that residents should use space heaters during the day in order to avoid the peak electricity use from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. “If you want to crank them up, do it now,” Reyes said Thursday morning. Taos Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Fambro has urged the public to mind the manufacturer’s clearance recommendations on space heaters, to not alter heaters, and to not use a heater for anything other than its specific intention. In order to reduce demand on the grid, Reyes suggested that residents turn off non-essential items like computers and TVs. Crews are being sent to the co-op’s substations to monitor the load, and major electricity consumers like Taos Ski Valley and the Questa mine are being asked to cut electricity use. “We have a program to reduce load when things like this happen,” Reyes said. “So we turn off the ski areas and other big loads,” Reyes said. Adriana Blake with Taos Ski Valley said the resort is still operating as normal, but that ski lifts are now running off of generator power. “Everything up here can be run off a generator,” Blake said. Reyes said the co-op’s emergency plan has been implemented and that operations will be moved into the co-op’s command center, which runs entirely off of electricity. The co-op is in contact with the town, and Reyes said the command center could double as an emergency shelter if it became necessary.
Gas Outage In Red River
We have just been notified that demand for natural gas in the Western US is outstripping supply. Distruption of our gas service is imminent. The duration of our gas outage is unknow at this time (and unfortunately it will be a while before we know anything). Town of Red River and Chamber personnel are working on a phone tree to notify all citizens. The High Street fire station has been designated as an emergency shelter.
If you need assistance please call Town Hall at 575-754-2277 but understand that we really have no additional information at this time.
We will keep you updated as information comes in.
Public Information Officer
Town of Red River