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Weather Experts Call Windstorm ‘Bomb Cyclone’

on March 16, 2019 - 12:04pm


SANTA FE — New Mexico experienced an unprecedented weather pattern this past week designated by weather experts as a “bomb cyclone.”

The storm caused extensive damage in several counties throughout the state. Interstate 25 was temporarily closed due to the risks of high-profile vehicles. Reports of 80-100 mile-an-hour winds were reported throughout the state.

The winds were so powerful they caused a freight train to be derailed off a truss bridge near Logan, falling approximately 50 feet into an arroyo causing complete destruction of the train and cargo.

Fortunately, in this case and all others related to this weather event, there was no loss of life.

The local response was, in the estimation of the New Mexco Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (NMDHSEM), heroic and incredibly quick.

In anticipation of the challenging weather, the NMDHSEM coordinated with the three national weather partners who cover the state and analyze weather threats. The storm system provided significant severe thunderstorm and tornado chances last Tuesday evening and excessive winds Wednesday. 

Thankfully, agency leadership said, the storm has passed, and the clean-up efforts are almost complete.

“We were in constant contact with local emergency management, first response personnel, and state agency partners Tuesday evening while the severe storms were underway,” said NMDHSEM Secretary Jackie White. “We sent teams out the door as soon as possible. Two damage and impact assessment teams were on the road to the hardest-hit areas in Chaves County first thing Wednesday morning. While on the road, one of the teams came across a trapped semi-truck driver whose tractor trailer overturned in the high winds.  They extricated the drive and provided shelter for him until State Police could arrive several hours later.”   

Over the course of the remainder of the week, NMDHSEM coordinated with local officials in Eddy, Chaves, Guadalupe, Curry and other impacted counties, along with State Agencies including New Mexico Department of Public Safety, New Mexico Department of Transportation and New Mexico Department of Agriculture to determine the extent of the damage and impact.

State and local crews worked around the clock to provide support to the New Mexico communities hit the hardest.

Unfortunately, Wednesday brought more destruction. Extensive winds expanded the damages and impacts into other areas of the state including Los Alamos, Las Vegas, Cloudcroft and Vaughn. Uprooted trees and downed power lines caused power outages and disrupted daily life.

Wednesday evening, Secretary White authorized the New Mexico National Guard to deploy a “prime power” team to Cloudcroft to provide power to the village’s wastewater treatment plant. 

As operations have begun to return to normal through extensive local, non-government and state efforts, the emphasis has turned to recovery. NMDHSEM is in contact with dozens of impacted local jurisdictions and eligible applicants helping to provide technical support on how to track their damages, costs, and how to apply for state disaster assistance.

The agency is evaluating the damages and costs and will make a recommendation to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham about whether to declare a state disaster.   

In the meantime, if any citizen or organization has unmet needs or has not been contacted to discuss recovery, they are encouraged to contact their local emergency manager, city or county office:

  • Los Alamos County (505) 662-8283;
  • Chaves County (575) 624-6740;
  • Curry County (575) 763-9485;
  • De Baca County (575) 355-2405;
  • Eddy Count (575) 885-3581
  • Guadalupe County (575) 472-3306;
  • Lea County (575) 391-2961:
  • Otero County (575) 439-2612; and
  • San Miguel County (505)425-6190.

Note: As always, if there is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.