Temperatures to rise above freezing

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks A goose and some ducks walk across the frozen lake Thursday at Greene Acres Park. Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said while it may be safe for ducks, the lake is not safe enough for people or pets to walk or play on and he cautions everyone to stay off.

Sharna Johnson

Temperatures are expected to hit the mid-40s today, marking the end of the coldest weather the area has seen in at least 20 years.

However, Thursday, arctic conditions continued in the area making things downright miserable for some residents who were in the path of scattered power outages.

Since Monday night, the area has seen highs of about 10 degrees and lows dipping below zero, with wind-chill factors as low as 24 below zero.

By evening, about 50 Clovis Xcel Energy customers were without power as technicians worked to replace six blown transformers scattered throughout the community, according to Wes Reeves.

In response, local help-agencies were reaching out to affected Clovis and Portales residents with offers of hotel vouchers for those without heat.

“If your home is without power due to the winter storm and is in the range of this power outage there is shelter available,” said Erinn Burch, United Way of Eastern New Mexico director.

Work crews had been brought in from Lubbock to assist and relieve local personnel and were prepared to work through the night, he said.

“It’s been a frustrating experience for customers. I personally lost my power yesterday (and understand how it feels) especially with the cold, we are not blind to that fact,” he said.

“They will be working all night … They’re going to work until they get these done.”

Projections for completion of repairs was around midnight, though Reeves said things could change, describing it as a “fluid situation,” especially if problems surface in other areas when nighttime temperatures dropped.

Reeves said sporadic power outages have been ongoing in the area. Portales had 80 homes without power Thursday because of overloads on the system.

Most of the overloads were taking place in newer neighborhoods where homes are all electric, Reeves said.

Xcel energy has asked customers to conserve energy out of concerns gas-fired plants may have difficulty obtaining gas for operations because of nationwide issues with winter weather.

Despite the extreme cold that began Monday night, Clovis Fire Chief Ray Westerman said there had been no cold-related ambulance calls.

“I think everybody pretty well stayed indoors,” he said.

For the most part, pets were well cared for too, said Animal Control officer Theresa Brown.

Brown said throughout the week, officers responded to about 25 welfare checks in which people reported animals exposed to cold.

All of the calls were resolved without officers having to seize any animals, she said. The biggest challenge of the week lay with officers out in the field “dealing with cold,” she said.

Thursday morning, Brown said she responded to a call of a goose frozen into the ice on the lake at Greene Acres Park, however she said when she made her way out onto the ice to help him, she laughed and said, “he flew away.”

Temperatures today are expected to be warmer, increasing into the upper 40’s over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Next week, temperatures will volley between mid-30’s and upper 40’s with a few cold nights, but the below zero temperatures of this week are not expected.