A gust of wind estimated at least 60 miles per hour tore off the metal roof on the south wing of the County Annex building on Neel Street at 3:14 p.m. Sunday.
“The damage is most likely the result of a microburst that came through Socorro at 2:55 p.m. and peaked at 3:15 p.m.,” said Kerry Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Albuquerque. “To do that kind of damage to a roof, it had to have been going at least 60 miles per hour.”
He said microbursts are extremely localized severe wind events.
“A gust of (only) 37 miles per hour was reported at the airport at 3:35 p.m.,” he said.
Ironically, the worst damage was to the county office of emergency management.
Fortunately, a burglar alarm activated by a door that opened when the roof came apart alerted emergency management coordinator Jerry Wheeler.
“At 3:14 p.m., the burglar alarm went off,” he said. “Then I got a report of a building south of Dr. Bhasker’s office with its roof blown off.”
Wheeler realized the two events were connected, and he rushed to his office. He and other employees were able to move or cover equipment, but phone service was affected.
“Only one line is available today,” he said on Monday.
Phone service was scheduled to be repaired by Tuesday.
County maintenance supervisor Michael Jojola met with contractors on Monday to get bids on the annex roof and repair or replace the carpets, drywall and ceiling tiles affected by the event.
“It’s an emergency situation,” he said.
As soon as the insurance company’s authorization comes in, work can begin on the roof.
Wheeler said he didn’t get any reports of any other damaged buildings, but the heavy rain caused localized street flooding, especially in neighborhoods between the high school and Bullock Road.
“By the railroad tracks near Highway 60, one trailer house had a foot of water in the yard,” he said.
County road supervisor Marty Greenwood said roads in the northern and eastern sections of the county sustained the most damage.
“There was quite a bit of road damage in Veguita and Claunch,” he said.
San Antonio and Magdalena roads were also affected.
The weather service estimated the storm dropped over an inch of rain in less than an hour in the city on Sunday. Socorro’s airport gauges showed 0.49 inches. The Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge office reported only 0.06 of an inch. A NWS reporting site south of Polvadera reported no rain.
The latest storm brings the city’s total to 1.97 inches, a bit above the normal July average of 1.8 inches.