A snowy scene in northern Mexico today. A snowy scene in northern Mexico today.

Snow flies in north with first winter storm

Eight states affected by snowfall, cold temperatures

The first winter storm of the season continues to bring atypical snowfall to northern Mexico where a carpet of snow now covers parts of the states of Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, Tamaulipas, Zacatecas, Durango and Hidalgo.

Airline flights in Chihuahua were canceled in the cities of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juárez, where many motorists found themselves stranded by snow-covered roads.

In Nuevo León, highways to Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas and Saltillo, Coahuila, were closed to traffic after heavy snowfall stranded an estimated 600 motorists. Temperatures in the greater Monterrey area dropped to below 0 C, a situation repeated throughout the state.

The capital also saw sleet for the first time in 20 years.

At least 15 Tamaulipas municipalities reported snowfall, a phenomenon that kept 90% of children from attending school yesterday.

Zacatecas authorities have raised a general alert and enacted the 2017-2018 Winter Season Contingency Plan, at the ready to respond if needed.

Temperatures as far south as the Tlanchinol sierra in Hidalgo dropped below zero, where snowfall was also reported.

In Saltillo, the capital of Coahuila, the thermometer dipped to seven degrees below zero, and 10 below in the sierra to the east. The temperatures, coupled with the snowfall, forced authorities to close three highways to traffic, all going into Saltillo from Zacatecas, Monclova and Torreón.

It was on the latter highway that conditions caused a bus to roll over, injuring 14 people.

Earlier this afternoon there were more than 2,000 trucks stranded on highway 57 in the municipality of Arteaga, near Saltillo. Traffic began slowing Thursday night due to poor conditions.

Arteaga Mayor Jesús Durán Flores predicted that traffic would remain backed up through the afternoon.

Local Civil Protection officials delivered food and fuel to the stranded vehicles yesterday.

In the municipalities of Monclova and Múzquiz, snowfall reached the 25-centimeter mark, causing the roofs of three schools to collapse. Airports throughout the state had to cancel flights, while the roads to several ejidos were blocked by snow.

In Torreón, residents saw snow for the first time in 20 years.

Coahuila authorities, along with their counterparts in the seven other states, have opened shelters that are being used mostly by homeless people.

Over 700 rations of coffee, hot chocolate, bread and hot soup have been distributed in one of those Coahuila shelters alone, an effort that also includes the distribution of heavy blankets.

Governor Miguel Ángel Riquelme Solís recommended that citizens take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves and stay indoors.

“Let’s stay warm and protected from the cold,” he wrote on Twitter.

Source: El Universal (sp), Milenio (sp)

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Photos courtesy Milenio

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