By Mike Linn: Freedom Newspapers
An army of rain marched through eastern New Mexico and West Texas on Tuesday night, bringing big grins to those who work in agriculture and big frowns from motorists traveling through some of the more waterlogged areas.
Portions of three major highways — State Highways 206 and 88 and the Cacahuate road from Muleshoe to Portales — were closed Tuesday night due to flash flooding.
Farmers residing south of Portales said excessive hail caused some damage to crops, but the rain was more than welcome.
“I’d say it’s mostly good,” Roosevelt County Ag Extension Agent Floyd McAlister said. “That much rain will cause some washing in places but still we’ve been so dry for so long, this will help us build some deep moisture.”
Motorists got a first-hand account of a different type of deep moisture Tuesday night.
Officials with the Bailey County Sheriff’s Department in Texas said an officer was responding to a call at 7:40 p.m. on the Cacahuate road when he came to an impasse where the water was too deep to drive through.
After that police decided to close the road, where intersections a few miles west of Muleshoe looked like fast-flowing rivers.
Some Roosevelt County roads remained closed until Wednesday morning.
Residents five miles south of Portales, near where New Mexico State Police Officers Clint Varnell and Lance Bateman were injured by lightning, said they received severe hail and between 4 and 5 inches of rain.
Jeff McCarty said he measured about 4 inches of hail on Wednesday morning and 5 inches of rain. He said there are about 500 dead birds, possibly killed by hail, under a tree near his home.
Drew Runyan lives near McCarty and said he received 4.3 inches of rain. He said severe flooding and mud washed a fence down, but he felt lucky to miss most of the hail damage.
Along with many others in the area, he said his electricity was out from 7:30 p.m. until 10:30 p.m.
Gene Massey, who lives eight miles south and three miles west of Portales, said he’s not sure how much rain he got because tumbleweeds blew over his rain gauge. He suspected he didn’t have over an inch.
Even so, he’s happy with what he got.
“I’m a farmer. You bet it’s good. We need it. We’ve got to have it,” he said.
Massey spent some of Wednesday afternoon searching for an eight-foot stock water tank that blew away in the winds.
Officials with the National Weather Service said they do not have wind gust measurements for Tuesday night’s storm.
Roosevelt County Commissioner Tom Clark, who lives in Rogers, said the county’s road department will begin repairing washed out intersections and roads, as there are “quite a few” roads that are waterlogged.
Even so, he said he was thrilled at the 3.25 inches he measured in the rain gauge at his home.
“We’ll have some muddy roads for awhile, and it may be a hindrance for mail carriers, but we benefited from the rain certainly more than it hurt us,” Clark said.
Barbara Jones feels differently. She lives about four miles south of Portales and said an entire mud road washed into her driveway. Beyond that, the wind blew her air conditioner off her mobile home. She said she’s expecting a visit from the insurance company to assess the damages.
“There’s mud everywhere,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “And the whole entire field (near her home) is under water.”