Medley chef and co-owner Wilks Medley was working with staff Sunday afternoon (Sept. 1) preparing to open the popular dinner spot on State Road 150 near Taos when they heard a ripping noise.
"We thought it was hail," said Medley said. When they went outside to see what had happened, about half the restuarant's roof was peeled back like the top of a sardine can. They saw what looked like a big dust devil or a mini-tornado whirling away into the nearby neighborhood.
"Suddenly someone said it was headed back toward us," Medley said as he stood outside surveying the damaged roof Monday (Sept. 2). The spiraling phenomena hit the restaurant again.
Luckily, no one was hurt, Medley said.
But it put a damper on the holiday weekend for him, his staff and their customers. The restaurant will be closed until the damage can be assessed. There was almost no damage inside and no structural damage as far as he could tell except for the roof.
Electrician Dave Mount was on hand Labor Day working to restore power to keep the refrigerators operating so the restuarant won't lose food.
Medley said he hopes to get at least a portion of the restaurant back up and operating by next weekend.
"It's a lot of work ahead," he said.
Clay Anderson, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Albuerque, reviewed a Facebook video taken by local photographer Geraint Smith of the whirling mass. "That definitely looks like a dust devil, which can do minor damage to structures," said Anderson. "Note that there was no condensation funnel and it wasn't attached to the cloud base, which means it wasn't a tornado."