LAS CRUCES – Oh, the calamity.
A strong storm with dime- and quarter-sized hail pounded Las Cruces Wednesday afternoon. The storm was particularly strong in downtown Las Cruces where as much as an inch of rain and hail fell from about 3:50 p.m. until 4:20 p.m. Wednesday.
Wednesday’s hail was easily the most that fell across Las Cruces since storms damaged numerous roofs and vehicles of Las Cruces’ residents in October. Those hail storms were responsible for millions of dollars in insurance claims.
The most recent storm “rattled the picture windows pretty good,” said Rick Nezzer, spokesman for the Sisbarro Dealerships of Las Cruces. “It was wet and hard. We won’t know how much damage there was until we get to look during the light of day (Thursday).”
The storm forced outside events to become inside affairs.
An evening outdoor picnic had to be moved inside for members of First Assembly of God church members. Approximately 160 graduates of Rio Grande Preparatory Institute assembled outside of the Pan American Center for their commencement ceremony but were quickly moved inside to wait when the storm caused a canopy to collapse. No one was injured. The ceremony was delayed 25 minutes as a result of the storm.
The intensity of the rain and hail caused minor flooding of some streets in Las Cruces, and traffic lights became inoperable. Also, there were reports from emergency dispatchers of a vehicle forced onto a median near downtown Las Cruces and two other vehicles that were stalled on downtown streets apparently because of the rain and hail.
“It was a mess,” said Las Crucen Roberta Harris, who had to drive to a doctor’s appointment during the storm. “It took me an extra 10 to 12 minutes to get there because of the rain and the way cars had to drive through that stuff. It was crazy. You could hardly see because it was coming down so hard, and cars were going every which way to get through the rush of the water.
“I just decided pretty quick to slow down, take my time, and try to get there in one piece.”
Las Cruces police did not report any major problems.
At New Mexico State University and in Mesilla, quarter-sized hail was reported to the National Weather Service.
Rain and hail started falling at the Las Cruces Sun-News’ downtown offices just before 4 p.m. and lasted for about 30 minutes. As much as .85 inches of combined rain and hail fell at the Las Cruces Sun-News, a member of the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.
National Weather Service meteorologists, in Santa Teresa, said the late-afternoon storm Wednesday dropped an average of half an inch to an inch of precipitation across much of southern New Mexico. Perhaps, the heaviest rain and hail that fell was north of Las Cruces in the area between Radium Springs and Jornada Range. Reports of an inch to 1 1/2 inches were made to the weather service.
Storms are expected to taper Thursday, with Las Cruces’ chance for rain dropping from 50 percent Wednesday night to 20 percent Thursday. Isolated showers and thunderstorms are possible early Thursday, but skies should become partly cloudy by Thursday night.
Sunny skies, with daytime temperatures in the upper 80s are expected Friday through Sunday.
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @SteveRamirez 6 on Twitter.
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