Roosevelt and Curry counties were under a “gustnado” advisory Wednesday night, weather officials said, but no major damage was reported.
A gustnado is weaker than a tornado, though residents were urged to stay indoors during the advisory, said Emergency Management Director Ken De Los Santos.
Initially the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Curry and Roosevelt counties, which is why sirens went off in Clovis, officials said.
The issue was quickly downgraded to a gustnado advisory.
A gustnado is defined as “a gust front tornado. A small, weak, short-lived tornado that occurs along a gust front — the leading edge of a thunderstorm, caused by rain-cooled air flowing out from the storm’s downdraft. A gustnado is often visible as a debris cloud or dust whirl,” according to a regional Web site for the National Weather Service.
Several Clovis residents said they saw what looked like a thin tornado funneling from the sky about 7 p.m. a few miles south of Clovis.
Dave Penry was driving from Portales to Clovis when he saw the first of three gustnados just north of the Curry-Roosevelt county line.
“I saw one of the most unusual funnels I’ve ever seen. It came all the way to the ground, it had a black outline, then on the inside it had a second spiral,” said Penry, who estimated he was about a mile from the gustnado. “That was the fastest moving thing I’ve ever seen in my life coming through there.”
About five minutes later Penry saw two more gustnados in the same area.
Penry said five or six travelers pulled over to the side of the road to view the funnels.