Rare tornado touches down near Eagle Nest Lake

August 10, 2018

TAOS — Roofer Michael A. Cabral was stopping for gas near Angel Fire on Thursday afternoon when he looked across the valley and saw a tornado whirling near Eagle Nest Lake.

“I was really excited,” said Cabral. “It was horrific but so beautiful at the same time.”

The tornado lasted about seven to 10 minutes, according to reports from residents.

Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said it was one of the few tornadoes — if not the first — reported in the Moreno Valley east of Taos. He said the tornado appeared to develop near or over the lake around 2:30 p.m. as a strong thunderstorm cropped up on the north side of the valley heading south.

Jones said there were reports of two transformers damaged and some kind of building knocked over, but no injuries that he knew of.

It was a land spout tornado, he said, one in which the funnel cloud appears to ascend from the ground into a storm instead of descending from one.

Based on reports, Jones figures wind speeds reached between 75 mph and 85 mph. After the tornado, he said, the thunderstorm weakened considerably.

Heavy thunderstorms with lightning, high wind and hail have pummeled portions of Northern New Mexico since Wednesday. Storms are expected to continue at least through Friday.

Jones said the National Weather Service has tornado records back to 1950 for the state. A total of 23 have been reported in Colfax County but none in the Moreno Valley.

“This could well to be the first of this magnitude,” Jones said. “Rare indeed.”

This story first appeared in the Taos News, a sister publication of the Santa Fe New Mexican.

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