ELEPHANT BUTTE LAKE STATE PARK, N.M. - Frightened campers at Elephant Butte Lake State park thought they were living through a tornado as an angry storm blew threw late Monday ripping trailers apart and causing lots of damage.
On Tuesday the National Weather Service was there to investigate exactly what happened while warning similar weather was possible later in the day at the park on the Rio Grande near Truth or Consequences.
Brandi Phillips just missed the storm when she left the lake to get her dog, but the storm didn't miss her camper trailer.
"To think every time it gets windy you go in your trailer," Brandi Phillips said. "Lots of people could have died."
Surprisingly no one was hurt although a dozen trailers were flipped and completely smashed. Some were thrown forty yards.
Even car windows were shattered from what the weather service is calling a downburst.
"Some of these downburst winds, 80 mph to 90 mph, Category One hurricane," John Fausett of weather service said. "Granted hurricanes are going be for hours, but still it's consistent with that speed. It's no pushover."
The winds were blowing hard enough to shove a 10,000-pound trailer from the shoreline to where it stopped as a pile of debris.
Witnesses said the heavy winds lasted about 10-15 minutes. Each trailer or campsite that was hit had no one in it.
Had this been over the holiday weekend park rangers say the outcome could have been much worse.
"We saw trailers flipped over," Phillips said. "They were crushed like accordions. Ours was flipped on its side trashed, and a bunch of people everywhere just trying to help each other."
Jesse Allen was in an army truck when it happened.
"It seemed like we were in the water," Allen told KRQE news 13. "That's what it seemed like.
"You couldn't even see two feet in front of you."
His windows are shattered, some blown out.
The forecast for the holiday is calmer. Elephant Butte park rangers are expecting roughly 60 thousand visitors for Fourth of July weekend.
The same weather system left some damage in Valencia County where winds snapped the tree in Jaime Brown's yard. The tree wasn't the only casualty as its fall also took down the power line to the house.
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