PNT Staff Report
A strong thunderstorm and wind damage left one Portales family believing they had a close encounter with a twister Wednesday evening.
The National Weather Service staff in Albuquerque said they tracked what was a pretty impressive storm near Arch around 7 p.m. Wednesday, but they never got any firm indication of a funnel cloud.
“It looked pretty good on radar as it went through Arch,” meterologist Charles Jones of NWS said.
Jones said while it didn’t show up on radar, the storm had the potential to create a tornado.
Stanley Dixon, who lives about eight miles east of Portales, near Arch, said a sideroll sprinkler was blown apart and one section was wrapped around a larger center-pivot sprinkler during the storm. It also carried hay bales 20 to 30 yards from where they had been on his property and damaged outbuildings.
He said his son Dustin Dixon and his grandsons Pecos, 10, and Price, 6, had gone to a place south of the Dixon home where they had a motocross track set up shortly before 7 p.m. They were getting ready to ride motorcycles when a storm began to close in on them very quickly.
They took cover in a small mobile home just before the rain, wind and hail hit.
Stanley Dixon was working on a sprinkler between the house and motocross track and rode the storm out in his pickup.
“That’s the hardest rain I’ve ever seen,” Stanley Dixon said. “I’ve never seen something build so fast.”
The Dixon grandsons said they weren’t too scared during the storm but were awed at the rain and the damage.
Pecos Dixon said no one saw a tornado before the storm hit, but they could see sheets of rain coming at them.
“It was only raining. We saw it coming,” Pecos said. “It was kinda white and blowing. It wasn’t dust, it was water.”
Stanley Dixon said another section of sprinkler with gears on it wouldn’t allow it to roll, but it had been moved a considerable distance with no tracks or drag marks. He felt that indicated it had been lifted up. He also didn’t think the hay bales would have been moved that far by straight-line winds.
Roosevelt County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Keith Wattenbarger said he hadn’t received any reports of damage by the storm. He said NWS had informed him of the thunderstorm warning, but they had only alerted him to the possibility of severe thunderstorms with pea-size hail and strong straight-line winds.