Changing weather not an exaggeration

By Karl Terry: PNT columnist

One of the favorite sayings in eastern New Mexico is “If you don’t like the weather here, wait a few minutes and it’ll change.”

Man, we sure got a good example of that last week.

With world leaders also meeting about climate change this past week we were able to prove, in a day’s time, right here, that weather is still running the complete cycle.

Tuesday before the sun came up was a crisp calm. Frost began to show itself on the lawn and the neighbors’ rooftops as dawn crept in while I drank my morning coffee at the dining room table. After breakfast I looked out on the horizon and could see that fog was forming.

After I dressed for work and hit the driveway for my drive from Portales to the auto dealership where I work in Clovis, the fog was starting to roll pretty good and it was cold. After scraping ice I took off and soon noticed that ice was forming on trees, fences and just about anything stationary. It was worse in Clovis.

By 9 a.m. it was clear again and the sun shone bright. A phone call mid-morning from one of my office mate’s spouses informed us a storm with rain and snow was blowing in from Tucumcari and would be on us in a half hour or so. About that time someone came inside the building and asked if we had seen the dark clouds building to the northwest. Inside 15 minutes it had turned dark as twilight again but the wind was still blowing from the southwest. A few minutes later we could see the flags on the antennae of our new pickups suddenly trail to the south, indicating a north wind.

A call from another spouse indicated rain in another part of Clovis and then seconds later we started getting ice pellets. Soon that became a fine sleet driven by a stiff north breeze, then light dry snowflakes. It snowed for a little over an hour and finally, just before it finished up, it switched from light dry flakes to big goose down like, plug-your-ear-up-size wet flakes.

After a couple of inches of snow fell, the sun came back out. But that and the snow on the ground were both short-lived. The wind got up quickly as the front passed and amazing as it might seem after that much snow, the dirt began to blow.

At the height of the screeching windstorm we saw winds over 60 mph. I can tell you almost exactly when that occurred because that’s the same time the scaffolding assembled out front where workers have been remodeling our building began to crash down. A section of scaffold on wheels broke loose from the main piece and started lumbering toward the used car lot. Luckily we were able to stop it before it did any damage.

That night the wind calmed and it got really, really cold, setting a record for that date, according to those who track that sort of thing.

In 12 hours we had seen just about everything Mother Nature has to offer for eastern New Mexico. Actually most of that occurred in the first six hours.

Lots of places around the country claim volatile weather changes but, unlike eastern New Mexico, much of it is hyperbole. As an example is a story that cowboy poet and Western singer Tom Munn tells on an album I have. Munn did his cowboying on a ranch at Woody Creek, Colo., near where I once lived.

The story begins when Munn happens by a swimming hole on a hot, dry day during a drought. He dives from the diving board and as he gets to the apex of his dive he notices the swimming hole has completely dried up because of the drought. On the way down, to his relief, a terrible storm sets in and fills the pond back up. But at the end of the dive he hits his head on something hard because a Norther had blown in and frozen the pond solid. When he comes to he’s in the sand trying to tread water.

I know Munn’s exaggerating just a little because I lived there and I know the weather on Colorado’s Western Slope is pretty tame compared to ours here on the Plains.