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By ROB LARSON
Daily Press Staff Writer
As was evidenced by many fallen tree limbs and a few downed electrical poles, Artesia experienced a sizable thunderstorm Sunday night with wind gusts of 61 miles per hour or higher.
According to Wendell Malone, a regional volunteer Skywarn coordinator for the Midland National Weather Service, the National Weather Service Office issued a “special weather statement” at 9:56 p.m. Sunday. At that time, Doppler radar was indicating a strong thunderstorm 11 miles west of Cottonwood moving to the southeast at 15 miles per hour. It reached Artesia roughly between 10 and 10:30 p.m. … For the rest of the story, subscribe in print and on the web.
“The airport clocked a peak wind gust of 61 miles per hour at 10:15 p.m.,” Malone said. “I talked to a few people around Artesia, and they said that they couldn’t see across the street because the dust was blowing so strongly. I personally think that some of those winds were a little higher than 61 miles per hour on the east side of town as that thunderstorm moved across town.”
Malone also believes so much dust was kicked up during the storm because of a dry microburst. As he explained, a microburst is a cool pocket of air that falls downward in a thunderstorm. By the time it reaches the ground, the wind gusts spread out in all different directions, kicking up a lot of dirt or dust if it’s dry.
In terms of having a storm like Sunday’s in the middle of August, Malone said “it’s not common, but it’s not completely unheard of either.”
“From mid-August to late October, as the jet streams start surging downward and the cold fronts start to come into our area again, we will sometimes get a severe second weather season, aside from what we may have seen that summer,” Malone said.
As a result of the storm, Sgt. Lindell Smith of the Artesia Police Department said officers were kept pretty busy with calls relating to property damage, blocked streets and acts of God.