High winds cause damage in Portales

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Portales Police patrol officers Colby Morgan, front, and Byanca Vega direct traffic around a tree the wind blew into one lane of U.S. 70 near Stripes convenience store Monday morning. The National Weather Service reported peak wind speeds around 60 mph in the area.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

Winds peaking at speeds of around 60 mph caused damage around Portales on Monday morning, but slowed in the afternoon.

Brent Wachter, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque, said winds at Cannon Air Force Base peaked at 59 mph, while the Clovis weather station registered a top speed of 63 mph. He had no reports from Roosevelt County.

Wachter said data indicated sustained wind speeds of 35-45 mph around the area from mid-morning until almost 3:30 p.m.

“We’ve had everything from damage to power poles to trees blowing over to part of one roof blowing off,” said Portales Police Deputy Chief Lonnie Berry.

A barn in the 1400 block of North Avenue B lost part of its roof. Portales Fire Department Battalion Chief Lance Hill said the roof broke a electrical line, which arched but didn’t cause a fire. When power poles or lines break, firefighters stand by on the scene until the electrical company arrives.

Xcel Energy spokesman Wes Reeves said around a dozen customers lost power in several incidents around midday, but the bulk of the outages were 90 minutes or less.

Berry said trees blew down on Abilene Street and U.S. 70, and another utility line was damaged on Second Street at Avenue F.

“We’ll be responding probably as long was this wind is blowing,” he said around midday.

Roosevelt County Sheriff Darren Hooker said his deputies handled a damaged power line on N.M. 467, and extreme amounts of dirt blew across the road at N.M. 206 and Roosevelt Road 15, making for dangerous driving.

Hooker and Berry said the wind lessened in the afternoon, and they had received no more wind-related calls as of about 5 p.m.

For days with high winds, Hooker said motorists whose vision is impaired by blowing dust should slow down, turn on their headlights and flashers and be careful.

“If at all possible, try to find an alternate route,” he said.

Berry advised staying away from downed power lines, and Hill said people should be cautious with controlled burns. They should notify the police or fire department before starting the fires and refrain from having controlled burns in high winds such as Monday’s, he said.