ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque residents are being asked to do wellness checks on their neighbors in the wake of the record-setting storm that hammered the city Friday night.
The request came from the mayor's office Saturday morning as residents who endured the hurricane-force storm that began Friday evening woke up to the most damage seen in the city in recent memory if not many decades.
For all the damage, however, there were no reports of storm-related injuries. A crash on Interstate 40 at Coors Boulevard NW, earlier reported as a fatality, critically injured the driver but appears to be unrelated to the storm, police said Saturday.
The city also reported no injuries to patrons or animals at the BioPark Zoo where the fierce winds hit during an outdoor concert and dropped tree limbs large and small onto the picnic area that had been packed in front of the band shell. The zoo on 10th Street SW and the BioPark Botanic Garden on Central Avenue NW are both closed Saturday for the cleanup although the aquarium removes open with tickets at half price for the day.
Emergency services scampered throughout the evening and overnight as falling trees and branches hit homes and cars and brought down power lines.
"The storm happened right at shift change, so we've got swing shift officers, graveyard officers, and we've called in about an extra 30 officers to assist with calls for service," Albuquerque Police Department Chief Ray Schultz said during a media briefing just before midnight. "The New Mexico State Police had people in the area to help with the closing of the freeway, so there were an additional 30 State Police officers in Albuquerque helping with calls for service."
By Saturday morning the cleanup already was underway with power still out at locations scattered around the middle Rio Grande Valley with numerous traffic lights replaced by stop signs.
"Right now we need time to restore basic services," said Roger Ebner, Albuquerque's director of emergency management, said in a statement released early Saturday. "The best thing the public can do is to stay home, relax and enjoy their weekend while crews work to restore power, clean the roadways and assist motorists."
The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department reported the signals out at Coors Boulevard SW and Eduardo Road with no estimate of then they'll be working again.
Emergency managers encouraged residents to avoid major throroughfares and to exercise extreme caution at unsignaled intersections.
Schultz, Mayor Richard J. Berry and Albuquerque Fire Department Chief James Breen were scheduled to hold a media briefing shortly before noon Saturday to release more information on the storm damage and cleanup.
At it's peak about 33,500 PNM customers in the metro area and elsewhere in the state were without power. But after working through the night, utility crews had cut that number to 8,500.
Extra crews were brought in from Alamogordo, Deming, Ruidoso and Santa Fe to help restore the system.
Outages are listed on PNM's online outage map along with estimated times for when power will be restored. However, PNM cautioned the estimate times are subject to change.
PNM also said in some areas it is having to replace poles damaged mostly by the violent winds. As a result it may be late Sunday afternoon before power is restored to all customers, a PNM official said.
PNM also warned residents not only to avoid downed power lines but to stay away from standing water near downed power lines.
The battered city and its neighbors may not yet be off the hook. The National Weather Service forecast offices in Albuquerque and El Paso, Texas, have issued a flash flood watches through overnight Saturday night for roughly the western half of the state from the Texas border near Carlsbad to the southwestern mountains and northeast along the central mountains to the Colorado state line near Raton.
Watches also extend into northern and northeastern Arizona and the mountains of southwestern Colorado. On Sunday the focus shifts to New Mexico's northern mountains and northeastern counties where storms will generally move to the east.
"Abundant moisture already in place will increase further this afternoon and evening as a weak disturbance draws even deeper moisture from Arizona into New Mexico," the weather service said in posting the watch. "Slow-moving thunderstorms with rainfall rates of near 2 inches per hour are possible with the stronger thunderstorms.
"The greatest threat for flash flooding will occur from midafternoon through early Sunday morning."
While some parts of the city and surrounding areas received soaking well in excess of 2 inches, the 1.36 inches recorded at the weather service forecast office at the Albuquerque Sunport was more than enough to break the official record for the day of 0.85 inches set in 1939.
The weather service also recorded a peak wind gust of 89 mph at about 7:30 p.m. as damage spread across the city.
The benefit from the storm is the metro area is now enjoying
its second-wettest July since 1930 when 4.45 inches fell during the month, according to weather service figures. The total so far this July of 2.74 inches compares to 0.89 inches last July and 0.39 inches in July 2011.
The July average in 111 years of recordkeeping is 1.41 inches.
A major storm hammered Albuquerque Friday night flooding neighborhoods, stranding motorists downing trees and power lines and blowing away outdoor events as recorded winds hit 89 mph.
That wind speed was enough to rank with Category One hurricanes.
Nearly 4.5 inches of rain was reported to have fallen near La Cueva High School at Alameda and Wyoming boulevards in northeast Albuquerque.
While police officers and firefighters responded to motorists stuck in mud and water and people trapped in homes by fallen trees, as of 11 p.m. there were no reports of storm-related injuries.
Runoff flooded an arroyo send a mudflow across Broadway Boulevard SE trapping motorists south of Rio Bravo Boulevard.
PNM is reporting numerous power outages affecting more than 27,000 customers and is saying the storm is hampering its ability to respond.
"As soon as it is safe to do so we will assess the damage and give more information on outages," PNM said on its Twitter feed.
By 9 p.m. PNM crews were in the field, but no one was offering estimates of when power will be restored.
The storm was expected to last several hours, said KRQE News 13 Chief Meteorologist Mark Ronchetti said. Two inches of rain or more are possible and may fall quickly increasing the risk from flash flooding, he added.
The Albuquerque Police Department called in extra personnel and partially opened its Emergency Operations Center. APD reported falling ceiling tiles and minor flooding in the basement of headquarters downtown.
Police also said the Valley Area Command building on Second Street NW flooded.
Between 8:30 and 9 p.m. I-25 was shut down between Gibson and I-40 by a downed power lines and northbound from Rio Bravo SW to Gibson for the same reason. Coors NW was closed between Irving and Eagle Ranch by flooding.
The Central Avenue underpass under the railroad between Broadway Boulevard and First Street flooded. Police also reported motorists stalled under I-40 on Third, Fourth , Fifth and Sixth Streets.
As if the weather were not complicating things enough, APD officers responding to a crash on eastbound I-40 at Coors reported in may have been caused by a shooting. At 10 p.m. police reported one person was dead but said the crash may have been a traffic incident and not related to a shooting.
There was no immediate report of the condition of anyone involved in the incident.
The storm brought down trees and power lines up and down the Rio Grande valley. KRQE News 13 received calls from people concerned that a tornado warning had been issued. The National Weather Service has not issued a tornado warning with this storm.
Trees were reported down around the city landing on homes and cars and blocking streets. A photo of damage at the BioPark Zoo showed downed tree limbs in the picnic area that had been hosting a concert.
There have not been any reports of injuries.
Officials said the zoo will be closed Saturday for clean up.
The storm continued its southward trek with additional weather warnings issued for Socorro and Torrance counties.
At 7:39 p.m. the weather service recorded at wind gust of 80 mph at its forecast office at the Albuquerque Sunport. By 8:30 p.m. the weather service was receiving reports of 2+ inches of rain in northern Albuquerque.
Violent winds also whipped the tarp groundskeepers were trying to roll out as the storm shut down the Albuquerque Isotopes games. The storm also hit the Luke Bryan concert at the Isleta Pavilion south of the Albuquerque Sunport/
Shortly before 7 p.m. the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for northeastern Bernalillo County and southeastern Sandoval County.
At 7:54 p.m. it was expanded to include parts of Torrance and and Valencia counties as the storms continue their slow southward march.
That includes Rio Rancho, Corrales and Bernalillo where heavy rain is forecast.
The storm may also target the East Mountains including Sandia Park, Cedar Crest and Tijeras, the weather service said.
The flash flood warning extends to at least 9:45 p.m.
- Update 6:33 p.m.: Flash flood warning though 8:30 p.m. for parts of Sandoval and Santa Fe counties. Very heavy rain from slow-moving thunderstorms in area of Jemez, Zia, Santa Ana and Cochiti pueblos. Rainfall of 1-2 inches possible.
- Update 5:25 p.m.: Flash flood warning through 7:45 p.m. for parts of Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Los Alamos counties. Heavy rain reported at 4:42 p.m. from storms near Coyote and Abiquiú moving south at 15 mph toward Los Alamos, Jemez Springs, burn scars from Thompson Ridge and Las Conchas fires and surrounding
More from KRQE.com:
Track weather watches and warnings in the KRQE.com Weather Alerts section.
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