Roofer Michael A. Cabral was stopping for gas near Angel Fire Thursday afternoon (Aug. 9) 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 7 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, if not the first tornado 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. He said there were reports of two transformers damaged and some kind of building knocked over, but no injuries that he knew of.
He said it was a landspout tornado, one where 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 and 85 miles per hour with the tornado. He said after the tornado, the thunderstorm weakened considerably.
Heavy thunderstorms with lightning, high wind and hail have pummeled portions of Northern New Mexico since Thursday. 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, none in the Moreno Valley.
"This could well to be the first of this magnitude," Jones said. "Rare indeed"
The last tornado reported in Colfax was May 10 east of Sugarite Canyon.