Tornado seen near San Jon

William Thompson

An off-duty state police officer said he witnessed what he thought may have been a tornado near San Jon around 7 p.m. Saturday evening.

State and local police officials in Tucumcari said no injuries or major damage resulted from heavy thunderstorm activity that occurred along Interstate 40 in Quay County between Tucumcari and the Texas state line. Around 7 p.m. Saturday, Chester Bobbitt of the New Mexico State Police said he was in his yard at his home in Porter, a small town between San Jon and Logan, when he saw unusual cloud activity. “I was watching a large cloud when I saw what looked like a little brown finger come down out of the cloud and touch the ground,” Bobbitt said. “I guess it was swirling dirt. It stayed on the ground for several minutes but it didn’t go towards the nearest house about a mile away. I drove to San Jon and reported what I saw to San Jon Police Chief Ben Gates. I didn’t observe any damage.”

Gates reported the tornado to Quay County dispatch. The tornado was mentioned on an Amarillo TV news station shortly after 7 p.m. David Willebrand, a dispatcher at the New Mexico State Police office in Tucumcari, said the tornado was located about 9 miles north and three miles east of San Jon in a sparsely populated area.
Willebrand said the Quay County area received heavy rain over the course of several hours. “A little after 8 p.m. I read a rain gauge five miles north of Tucumcari that registered an inch and a half of rain,” Willebrand said. “We received a lot of rain and 10-15 m.p.h. winds from about 6:30 p.m. until about 9 p.m.”

Willebrand said I-40 was not closed during the storms Saturday evening. “Although I-40 wasn’t officially closed, I notified truckers at truck stops in Tucumcari and San Jon that they had better wait awhile before driving into Texas because an Amarillo TV news station was reporting water over the highway in the Glenrio area.” Officer Bobbitt said he received two inches of rain at his home in Porter.