Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Wednesday’s wind-whipped winter storm, which caused widespread damage and power outages throughout northern New Mexico, wrecked six small private planes and damaged hangars at the Santa Fe Regional Airport. The damage total approached $1 million.
Calling the storm a “very unusual” event, meteorologist Brian Guyer of the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said there “were wind gusts of 70 to 80 mph around a good chunk of the north part of the state.”
Six planes were damaged or turned over, and doors were blown off four hangars when the early morning snow squall struck, airport manager Mark Baca said Thursday.
“A couple of those (planes) were valued at $80,000 to $90,000 each, or somewhere in that area,” Baca said. The total damage “is probably, between that (the planes) and the hangars – $800,000,” he said.
The roof of one hangar was torn off.
“It was kind of like a tuna can, it opened up the top,” Baca said.
A blowing hangar door took out two fences and some parked cars were damaged by debris.
Winds registered 70 mph at the Santa Fe airport at 6:30 a.m., Guyer said.
Commercial flights were back on schedule Thursday, but one United Airlines flight to Denver was canceled Wednesday and American Airlines flights were two hours behind all day, Baca said.
In Taos, 10 homes were reported to have suffered severe damage, “but we know there are more that didn’t call dispatch,” said Taos County public information officer Anissa Arrambide.
Gusts in Taos were reported at 62 mph at the airport, “but likely, based on the damage … may have been stronger in other parts of the city,” Guyer said.
An emergency shelter set up in Taos on Wednesday remained empty overnight.
“Nobody needed it,” said Arrambide, adding those requiring shelter were taken in by family and friends. The County Commission passed a state of emergency resolution because of damage from the storm.
Power was restored to most areas in the county by 4 a.m. Thursday, but some homes in the El Prado area were still waiting for power.
A 40-foot tree from an adjoining property fell and struck the Village of Taos Ski Valley Police Administration Building at about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday.
The sound of the snapping tree “alerted our police and they managed to escape the office as the tree crashed through the roof,” Village Administrator John Avila said by email.
The storm caused “tree damage to acres of forest at higher elevations,” Avila said.
In Los Alamos, power was fully restored at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.