Microburst hits Eunice, damage reported
EUNICE — Allen Miller was in Hobbs at the moment the roof of an old gas station almost two blocks away, landed on his Eunice home.
The damage to Miller’s home was one of a number of reported incidents following a microburst that hit the community’s downtown area around 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Eunice Police Chief Jimmie Jones said the damage to the home, located on the 1200 block of 12th Street, was extensive and the microburst had Eunice residents in a frenzy.
“(It) caused some serious structural damage to the house,” he said. “It went nuts for a while.”
City Councilman Jerry Corral, who had just left the city hall after a City Council meeting, said he saw multiple tree limbs in the streets and took photos of the roof blown onto Miller’s home. By the time he drove to the area to check on possible injuries, emergency personnel were on the scene.
Miller said Wednesday morning that he has yet to evaluate the damage to his home. Jones said the microburst lasted about five minutes.
“My phone blew up within a couple of minutes with people wanting to know if there was a tornado, if people should take cover or anything,” he said. “There wasn’t any weather warnings or anything that I had seen. I usually get that stuff from the National Weather Service. All of a sudden, it hit then it was done. It was pretty scary for the community.”
Jones reported broken power poles in several locations, as well as trees damaged and multiple road barrels blown well out of the construction zones.
No injuries were reported, but residents noted damage to virtually anything not tied down and some that were tied down, including power poles and at least one roof.
National Weather Service spokesman Jim Deberry said the closest monitoring station to Eunice is in Hobbs, so this microburst, and the speed it reached,, was not registered.
“The slang for it we use around here is a ‘virga bomb,’” Deberry said. “When you have really high-based thunderstorm activity and it’s precipitating into a dry area. When that rain falls into the dry area, it evaporates.” The evaporation process makes the air cold.
“Cold air is heavier than warm air, so as it falls to the ground it’s getting colder and colder and just keeps speeding up,” Deberry said. “When it hits the ground, it could be 60-70 miles an hour or even higher as it spreads out.”
Deberry said a similar event hit Seagraves last week at 74 miles per hour. Eunice Fire Chief Eddie Fabela confirmed a grass fire northwest of the city burned about two acres after downed power lines sparked the blaze.
“It definitely took us by surprise,” he said. “We weren’t able to actually access the fire right away because of the active power lines until Xcel was able to get out there and cut the power off.”
Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves said additional broken tree branches damaged lines in the 600 block of Avenue P in Eunice.
“We also had a broken pole at 1219 N. Main impacting 21 customers,” he added.