Can Solar Help with New Mexico’s Windy Weather?

New Mexico Solar FAQs
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New Mexico Wind-Caused Outages & Solar

Spring’s here, and for New Mexicans, that means wind. April and May have become synonymous with strong wind events across the state. Unfortunately, the result of windy weather can cause a lot of damage.

Residents should know about the resources available and tips to handle New Mexico’s unpredictable weather. While New Mexico winds typically stay below 10 mph, New Mexico often has wind advisory warnings for sustained 40 mph or faster winds and gusts over 58 mph. 

Two factors create New Mexico’s abnormal wind season. First, the polar jet stream influences the southwest, picking up wind speeds. Second, as the sun rises higher in the sky during those spring months, the earth’s surface heats up. When this happens, air rises and mixes with the existing wind currents creating heavier winds. 

What to Expect During the Windy Season

During strong bouts of wind, New Mexicans should follow a few procedures to ensure that their families and property remain safe. First, consider the power lines and the threat they pose during a wind crisis. It’s best to assume all the power lines still have power, so don’t try retrieving anything that’s stuck in them.

Second, make sure all personal items get anchored or tied down to some capacity. Securing these items will minimize damage.

Third, avoid any activities with objects that could become stuck in a power line. Flying a kite on a windy day may seem like a good idea, but not on wind advisory days with menacing speeds. See the graphs below to see how Albuquerque compares to other nearby cities in terms of wind volume and speed.

Image courtesy of The National Weather Service

Downed Power Lines Due to High Wind

High winds can cause power lines to fall. They can also force heavy objects to land on them. Wind-related power line damage doesn’t stop after an excessive wind storm. PNM needs to fix the downed power line. To ensure lineworker safety, homeowners impacted by the outage won’t have power again until deemed safe. 

High-priority facilities, like hospitals and first responder buildings, often have power restored first. Homes in the same neighborhood may run on different circuits, which could mean your neighbor’s power is restored before yours. Power line fixes can take anywhere from a few seconds to several months, depending on the damage.

Residential Solar Provides Hope During Wind Caused Outages

Since the wind presents a legitimate problem for grid users, homeowners should consider residential solar and battery backup. Solar arrays rely on energy transfer from the conversion of sunlight into electricity. On its own, a solar array may not provide power all day.

The question then becomes how long will the solar battery keep the home running. The answer depends on the battery. While most home batteries will provide emergency power for several hours, some batteries, like the Powerwall, can access solar power during the day, allowing the battery to recharge during an outage.  


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