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High winds in the state

As March transitions into April, most New Mexicans have noticed the return of an old friend; high winds are back. Springtime is the windiest time of year, especially in the southern portion of the state.

A pickup truck destroyed by a fallen tree due to high winds sits outside of NMSU’s Conroy Honors Center Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. (Photo by Hannah Hunter/Kokopelli)

Last month, a high wind advisory went out to Las Cruces and El Paso residents warning people of winds gusting up to 50 miles per hour. The results left the Las Cruces and El Paso areas covered in dust and reeling from damage. Blown-down trees and other damage were evident on the NMSU campus and various other locations in the two cities. 

Drivers within the state are familiar with the “Gusty Winds May Exist” road signs, as wind can create dangerous driving conditions. According to the National Weather Service, high winds cause visibility issues and intense crosswinds can make it difficult for drivers to see properly.

The National Weather Service advises individuals to avoid going outside if at all possible during wind storms. If people must be outside, they are advised to avoid tall structures, trees or anything that could easily be blown over. It is also advised to remain within the lower levels of two-story households and to keep away from windows to avoid injury. 

Monthly mean wind speeds for surrounding areas. (Courtesy of the National Weather Service)

In the midst of high wind conditions, the possibility of dust storms is more likely. When high winds persist, the amount of dust kicked up often covers large stretches of land making it almost impossible to see on the roadways.

In other cases, winds are so strong that power lines, traffic lights, internet and phone lines are knocked out of service. This causes problems for business owners and anyone reliant on digital communications.

The spring is the most windy season for New Mexico because warmer temperatures move in and mix with colder weather, causing turbulent winds. According to the National Weather Service, as warm surface air rises and mixes with colder air at higher altitudes, the two create a whirling, windy result.

According to Weather U.S., April and May are the two windiest months of the year in Doña Ana County, with monthly average wind speeds of 10.6 mph and 9.9 mph, respectively. 

As the windiest months of the year are fast approaching, it’s important for New Mexico residents to avoid driving in hazardous conditions, keep up with local weather forecasts and abide by all wind advisories.

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