New Mexico’s Historic Winter Storm

Thousands of livestock perished in the 1931 storm.

During the winter storm of 1931 more than four feet of snow fell across New Mexico. The unrelenting storm began on November 30th and didn’t stop for two days. People woke up on December 2nd to the biggest snowfall of their lives. Some of the villages were buried in snow. When the storm finally stopped people had to shovel trails to access the animal corrals. Indoor plumbing was scarce in those days. A pathway was made to get to the outhouse. Wood was the only source of heat and people worried about running out of firewood.

Loss of Livestock During the Winter Storm

Severe cold temperatures followed the winter storm. The snow stayed on the ground through mid February. The devastation of livestock was widespread with losses in the tens of thousands. In some cases more than half of a herd was lost. The most vulnerable were the herds caught out in the open. The animals grew weak in the deep snow and could not be moved to protected canyon country. Not only did the sheep suffer but so did the rest of the animals. Milk production from the cows dwindled and the chickens quit laying eggs. All that’s left of that harrowing winter is tucked away in an archive. Just about all of the people who lived through the storm are gone. It’s all history now.

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