A Limited Review Of Recent Historical High Wind Events & Dust Storms In SE NM.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 @ 3:29 PM MDT.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 @ 3:17 PM MDT.

Thursday, March 24, 2016 @ 3:41 PM MDT.

High winds and blowing dust made for a couple of miserable days in southeastern New Mexico and West Texas this past Tuesday and Wednesday. Actually dust storms like these are fairly common and normal this time of the year and there is really nothing unusual about them. We've seen far worse dust storms in the years past with higher wind gusts. 

 I stopped at the New Mexico and Texas State line along US Hwy 62/180 and took the above photos. I was looking west at the Guadalupes 15 miles to my west. 

Peak wind gusts of 72 mph and 74 mph were recorded at the Bowl Raws (located north of Guadalupe Peak) and at Guadalupe Pass Wednesday. The blowing dust dropped our visibility down to around 3-7 miles Wednesday afternoon. Carlsbad recorded a peak gust of 62 mph out of the west at 2:35 PM MDT Wednesday afternoon.

A Limited Review Of Recent Historical High Wind Events & Dust Storms In SE NM.

15 Vehicle Pile Up North Of Artesia.
( February 28, 2012).

Blowing dirt is blamed for this multi-car crash on U.S. Highway 285 north of Artesia early Tuesday afternoon, according to N.M. State Police. Officers were first called to a two-car collision at around 12:30 p.m., but a total of 15 vehicles eventually crashed into the pileup, said NMSP Sgt. Lawrence Murray. Ten people were hospitalized - eight of those transported by ambulance - but none were seriously injured, police said. Article is courtesy of the Carlsbad Current Argus. http://www.currentargus.com/ci_20066513

WSMR - Salinas Peak (Sierra County) 107 mph
WSMR - Museum 83 mph
WSMR (EMRE) - NE of San Augustine Pass 79 mph
Sierra Blanca Regional Airport 74 mph
WSMR Main Post 70 mph

WSMR- Bldg 1830 69 mph
Artesia Airport AWOS 67 mph
Pine Springs - GNP 65 mph
San Augustine Pass - Organ Mtn's 63 mph
Guadalupe Pass ASOS 63 mph
Dunken Raws 60 mph

Bowl Raws - North Of Guadalupe Pk 59 mph
Tatum MesoNet 59 mph
2 SW Tatum 57 mph
Carlsbad Airport ASOS 56 mph
Dunken Raws 55 mph
Carlsbad - NMAQ 55 mph
Roswell Airport ASOS 53 mph
Hobbs Airport 53 mph
Caprock Raws 53 mph
Fort Stanton Raws 52 mph
Pinery Raws - Pine Springs 51 mph
Sacramento Peak - Sunspot 50 mph
Mescal Raws - Mescalero 50 mph

(March 12, 2006).

The Automated Weather Observing System at Artesia, New Mexico (KATS) recorded a wind gust of 84 mph. Local law enforcement reported a large tree down in town. A National Weather Service trained spotter reported that a window at the Sherwood Williams Paint Store in Artesia was blown out.

An emergency flare at a gas plant near McDonald, New Mexico started a wildfire that grew to nearly 100,000 acres. Sustained wind speeds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts to 84 mph and very low relative humidity values contributed to the rapid growth and spread of this fire. These high winds occurred as both upper-level height gradients and surface pressure gradients tightened as a strong upper-level low pressure system approached southeastern New Mexico. The fire began around 10:30am MST and was visible on satellite by 11:00am MST. The NWS first learned of the fire through a cooperative observer in Tatum, New Mexico, who submitted a storm report online at 11:42am MST. New Mexico State Road 206 was closed by the New Mexico State Police between Tatum and McDonald due to the fire. News reports in later days indicated that the final acreage of the burn area was 92,390 acres. The fire was contained Monday, March 13th after burning down the U.S. Post Office, two primary residences, four abandoned homes, three barns, and several pieces of fire equipment. Two dozen fire departments fought to put out the fire and one man suffered burns and was treated at a burn center in Lubbock, Texas. All of the destroyed properties above were taken into account for the property damage estimate above. It is not known at this time if any crops were being grown in the area of the fire.

(January 3-4, 2004).

A low amplitude longwave trough slowly propagated east across the Southern Plains late on the 3rd and into the first half of the 4th. Height gradients in the base of the trough were tight, and resulted in severe winds in the higher elevations of the Guadalupe Mountains. Gusts frequently exceeded 80 MPH during the nighttime hours. At 0200 MST, a peak gust of 102 MPH was observed at The Bowl (7,755 FT MSL). The extreme winds were generally restricted to rural areas of the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Park Service rangers reported an unknown number of trees that had been blown down by the winds. Given the uninhabited nature of the area, no damage occurred to man-made structures and there were no injuries.

(April 15, 2003). 

An automated observing system at Mount Locke reported a peak wind gust of 73 MPH.

Automated observing systems at the Guadalupe Bowl and Guadalupe Pass reported peak gusts of 99 and 98 MPH respectively.

A very strong and dynamic storm system moved over the Southern Plains on the 15th. A deep surface trough and dryline swept east across the Permian Basin during the afternoon hours. Very strong winds were propagating through the base of the mid level trough, with 50+ knots indicated within 1 km above ground on the KMAF 88D VAD profiler.

These winds, along with strong subsidence behind the wave and a tight pressure gradient, resulted in strong winds across a large part of West Texas with widespread gusts in the 50 to 65 MPH range. Gusts were observed as high as 98 MPH in the Guadalupe Mountains. The most significant damage reported in West Texas was in Andrews County.

Damage reports from the city of Tatum consisted of one carport which was destroyed, minor roof damage to several structures, and downed powerpoles and trees.

Some of the most significant damage from the high wind event was in the Hobbs area. Public reports of winds near hurricane force were received, but could not be confirmed. Damage sustained in the area supported higher winds than those observed at the airport. Damage included severe roof damage to five well constructed homes. Several trailer houses were destroyed. The roof of a water storage facility which services the city with drinking water was blown off. Numerous other reports of tree, powerline and pole, and traffic sign damage were received.

A very strong and dynamic storm system moved over the Southern Plains on the 15th. A deep surface trough and dryline swept across southeast New Mexico during the afternoon hours. Very strong winds were propagating through the base of the mid level trough. These winds, along with strong subsidence and tight pressure gradients behind the wave, resulted in very strong winds across the region. Widespread wind gusts in the 50 to 65 MPH range were common. The most significant damage in southeast New Mexico was in the area around Hobbs.

Widespread damage to trees, powerpoles and lines, and signs were reported in Artesia. At least one car was struck by a falling tree in the city.

(February 2, 2003).

An intense upper level storm system which passed close to West Texas and southeast New Mexico resulted in very strong west winds in the higher elevations of the Guadalupe Mountains. An automated observing site in the Guadalupes recorded a peak wind gust of 99 MPH around 21:00 MST on the 2nd. The high winds blew a vehicle off of the north/south oriented Highway 62/180 near mile marker 6. The accident, occuring at 11:00 MST on the 2nd, resulted in one death and two injuries.

(January 17, 1996).

A wind event for the history books occurred with a peak wind gust of 128 mph at Guadalupe Pass. The sustained wind was hurricane force from about 1000 am until about 300 pm with a maximum sustained wind of 105 mph. Although the Pass is famous for wind events elderly ranchers in the area said they had never seen the wind blow so hard. The highest winds and most damage occurred in the mountainous zones, however strong to damaging winds occurred over most of the warning area.

During the late morning much of the damage occurred in the mountainous areas, with the most substantial damage near Guadalupe Pass. A list of the more significant reports follows.

At Guadalupe Mountains National Park about 20 vehicles sustained damage such as broken windows and paint being chipped off by blowing rocks. One stationary step van was overturned in a parking lot. The wind also ripped out over 100 feet of chainlink fence and threw picnic tables across campgrounds.

On U.S. Highway 62/180 a double trailer truck was overturned at 1334 MST. Across the highway at a Department of Transportation facility a roof was blown off one building. During the event a coordination call to the site found an obviously shaken gentleman in fear that the roof of his building might give way to the wind at any moment. A series of power generating wind turbines located in a north-south line south of the pass sustained damage as well.

Farther south, in southwestern Culberson County, a fatal vehicle accident occurred in the eastbound lane of I-10, 14 miles east of Van Horn at 1550 CST. the mishap was partially blamed on the low visibilities in the area. A 56 year old South Carolina man was killed when he drove his car into a parked trailer truck which had just been involved in an accident. The Department of Public Safety report stated that visibilities were ranging between 20 feet and 1/4 mile with a visibility of 50 feet being common during the clean up of the accident.

Winds recorded at 68 and 73 mph on anemometers in Carlsbad. Poles were damaged and some lines snapped. Also a vehicle sustained damage at Carlsbad Caverns.

The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction!


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