Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Icy roads lead to fatal accidents in Chihuahua

Icy conditions in northern Mexico closed one section of highway for 39 hours and sent two members of the National Guard to their deaths when the truck they were in skidded off a frozen road and into a ravine.

The fatal accident occurred in the northern state of Chihuahua, and six people were seriously injured, in addition to the deaths of Miguel Isaí Rivas and Luis Tetatzin, according to the state’s Forensic Medical Service.

Northeastern Mexico has been particularly strongly affected by the freezing temperatures and strong winds. (SMN)

The truck was traveling through the Tarahumara Sierra, a portion of the Western Sierra Madre near the Copper Canyon. Reports said the snow on the ground was 2 inches thick in that area.

Two civilians were killed in a similar accident in a non-mountainous part of Chihuahua, on the Pan-American Highway.

Both calamities occurred Monday during conditions brought on by Mexico’s fourth winter storm of the season along with cold front number 25, which sent temperatures plunging to -12 degrees Celsius. 

Sections of Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, lost electricity due to strong winds, and some schools suspended classes on Tuesday due to cold temperatures, strong winds and snowfall.

Then cold front number 26 arrived on Wednesday and created similarly frigid conditions overnight and into Thursday.

Chihuahua’s Ministry of Education opted to suspend classes at noon on Thursday, as some schools in the state are withoutheating. Meanwhile, Civil Protection issued an alert for winds of up to 95 km/h.

Earlier this week, 138 migrants in the capital city of Chihuahua were moved to temporary shelters to protect them from temperatures as low as -6 Celsius.

At midday Tuesday, the Sonora-Chihuahua border highway was reopened after being closed for more than 1½ days due to snowfall in the section of the roadway just south of the U.S.-Mexico border between Arizona and New Mexico. 

Strong winds led to power outages in Tamaulipas, as electricity lines were felled by the storm. (CFE/X)

Approximately 400 stranded motorists were housed in temporary shelters.

Falling trees and burst pipes were common sites across much of northern Mexico, from Sonora to Veracruz. Cold front number 26 could wreak even more havoc, the National Weather Service (SMN) said.

The front is now generating “a very cold to frigid environment and strong to intense winds.” SMN noted that gusts could exceed 100 km/h in Chihuahua and Durango, and that showers, snow and/or sleet is expected Thursday in Baja California, Sonora and Chihuahua.

On Friday, the cold front will expand, with occasional heavy rains forecast in Veracruz, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco; gusts of 80 to 100 km/h on the Tamaulipas and Veracruz coasts; and temperatures at dawn as low as minus-10 Celsius in some places.

With reports from La Jornada and Excelsior

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