Heavy winds tore across the plains of southeast New Mexico and through Roswell Wednesday, resulting in some temporary power outages, road closures, dangerous driving conditions and some flying debris.
A High Wind Warning had been issued by the National Weather Service for the eastern plains of New Mexico Monday, including Chaves County, with westerly winds forecast of 35 to 50 mph, with gusts possibly reaching as high as 60 to 75 mph, according to the warning.
In Roswell, the winds picked up late in the morning.
A major vehicle accident happened in Dexter, according to the Facebook page of Dexter Fire and Rescue. The post announcing the accident urged people to avoid any unnecessary travel.
Todd Wildermuth, public information officer for the Roswell Police Department and the city of Roswell said late Wednesday that the city of Roswell Fire Department had responded to the accident somewhere in the Dexter area.
Wildermuth did not disclose the location or nature of the accident but said two people were transported to the hospital, and that one of the injured had to be extracted from a vehicle using the Jaws of Life hydraulic tool.
He added that as of 3:21 p.m. Wednesday, there were a total of three minor vehicle accidents within the city limits since about 10 a.m, which did not result in serious injuries.
Chaves County was also subject to a Red Flag Warning by the National Weather Service that will extend through Thursday evening due to high humidity and strong winds that could make conditions more susceptible to fire.
Wildermuth said the city of Roswell Fire Department also assisted in fighting a fire south of the city that burned some grass and a few structures. He said he does not know where the fire happened or if anyone was injured.
At about noon, the New Mexico Department of Transportation had closed off the segment of the Relief Route between Brasher Road and Sunset Avenue, due to the hazard and decreased visibility presented by possible flying debris from the municipal landfill and concrete-crushing plants.
Traffic was detoured from the Relief Route onto Brasher Road and Sunset Avenue.
The landfill and Spring River Zoo were also closed down due to the fierce winds, according to a press release from the city of Roswell.
Power outages were also reported throughout Chaves County.
Xcel Energy crews could be seen in trucks throughout the city attempting to restore power.
Wes Reeves, senior media relations representative, said that a damaged pole near South Main Street in Jaffa, knocked power out to 1,133 customers in southern Roswell. Reeves said Xcel received notification of the situation.
He said Xcel Energy received notification of the situation. Power was then rerouted and restored to 740 customers before the pole was fixed and then the power was restored to most of the others.
An outage map on Xcel Energy’s website at 9:48 p.m. Wednesday showed that power had been restored to all customers in Roswell.
Earlier in the day, outages had been reported outside the city in areas of the county serviced by the Central Valley Electric Cooperative.
Mike Anderson, finance and administration manager for Central Valley Electric, said the first calls about power outages came in at about 9 a.m. Wednesday. He added that the cause of the outages is not known, but they are believed to be related to the heavy winds.
A dispatcher said at about 5 p.m., that most power had been restored to Central Valley Electric’s customers, but that a few homes and an oil field east of Artesia still lacked power.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.