High Winds cause chaos for electric company

Tony Parra

Roosevelt County residents took caution to the wind on Monday with high winds causing power outages and fallen electric poles in some areas.
The high wind advisories for eastern New Mexico soaked Portales with a brown cloud of dust causing limited visibility in areas of Highway 70 south of town.
There was a high wind advisory for eastern New Mexico from the National Weather Service for a good part of the day. The National Weather Service reported winds of 41 mph gusting to 60 mph during the midday hours.
By then the damage had already been done to the Roosevelt County Electric Cooperative Inc.
“We had five poles go down since 9 a.m.,” Apolonio Santillaenes, RCEC line superintendent, said at 2:30 p.m. “I haven’t see it this bad since the tumbleweeds were stacked up everywhere (in March). We had the power go out in some areas.”
The high winds only added the pressure of replacing the poles for RCEC crew members.
“It’s hard for workers to work in these conditions,” Santillaenes said. “We were able to get the power up and replace the poles. The fallen poles were spread out throughout the county. We had some in west and north of Portales. We had some around Milnesand and by Arch.”
The wind chill dropped the temperature to 35 degrees and there was visibility for only 3 miles.
Residents can take a slight break from the wind, with the forecast calling for Northwest winds from 10 to 20 mph for today, according to the National Weather Service.
“In situations like these we advise for people to secure their light weight objects, such as trash cans and lawn furniture,” said Jeff Michalski of the National Weather Service.
The high wind advisory was in effect until 5 p.m. on Monday, Michalski said.
By late Monday afternoon, local law enforcement and fire officials had not reported of any calls coming in due to the high winds. Portales Police Capt. Lonnie Berry reported of only Christmas decorations on the streets that needed to be cleared.
In situations where wind gusts are strong, fire department officials say lack of visibility can make it difficult to drive.
“With high winds one of the biggest problem is the visibility,” Jesse Mowrer, Portales Fire Department battalion chief, said. “It hinders our response time in an emergency. We have to drive according to the conditions.”