The National Weather Service says it was just a really strong wind. But that won’t convince Leland Pool what hit his place in Roosevelt County was anything but a tornado.
Pool said the storm around 8 p.m. Friday lasted about three minutes. In that time it tore the roof off a neighbor’s barn, blew over a nearby mobile home, shattered a glass sliding door in his house and picked up a granary building behind his barn, scattering the wood splintered remains for a half-mile in all directions.
“I’m still picking up pieces of what’s left of my granary,” said Pool, 78, a retired farmer who lives on N.M. 236 in the Bethel area, about 10 miles northeast of Portales.
A weather service spokesman said there were no tornados or rotating winds tracked in the area, but there were some fierce 60-plus mph winds and golf-ball size hail reported by weather trackers at Cannon Air Force Base.
“We had some strong straight-line winds racing in ahead of a cold front and they tend to leave that sort of damage behind,” said Senior Forecaster Tim Shy at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. “There were also reports of golf-ball size hail in Portales.”
Shy said weather trackers at Cannon marked the highest wind speed at 59 knots — about 66 to 67 mph.
“We got seven-tenths of an inch of rain in about three minutes,” said Pool, who was watching television with his wife when the storm started. “It was hailing about the size of my thumb.”
Pool said while he didn’t see a funnel cloud, he was convinced what he lived through was a tornado.
“It just tore everything up,” said Pool. “It was a downpour and a hell of a storm.”