Homepage | The Durango Herald Mobile

For N.M., if it’s not drought, it’s flooding

Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE – Forecasters with the National Weather Service said Friday it’s still unclear whether the showers that soaked communities along the Middle Rio Grande Valley overnight are a sign of what’s to come this monsoon season.

New Mexicans have spent a year waiting for any kind of meaningful moisture to break the spell of the drought. The latest maps show a sea of red and yellow across every square mile of the state, dictating dry conditions that range from moderate to extreme.

Members of the state’s drought monitoring group met for nearly two hours to discuss the current drought situation, the chances of summer rains developing over the next month, the fires burning around the state and the potential for flooding if the rains materialize.

While chances are split among having below, normal or above-average precipitation this summer, the odds are improving for more moisture to start moving into the region, said John Brost, science and operations officer with the National Weather Service in Tucson, Ariz.

“We know there are going to be storms. We know there is going to be severe weather, and we know there will be flooding, especially in the area of those burn scars,” he said.

Wildfires have charred hundreds of square miles in New Mexico over the last month. In the Gila National Forest, firefighters continue fighting the Whitewater-Baldy blaze, the largest fire in the state’s recorded history at more than 296,980 acres. Crews also continue work on the Little Bear Fire, which has destroyed more than 240 homes and commercial buildings near Ruidoso.

Special teams have been surveying the damage from both fires and making plans for seeding and erosion control in advance of the expected rains.

Forecasters said the concern for flash flooding is real, given that half of New Mexico gets 40 percent of its annual precipitation between June and August.

The big question for most New Mexicans is when the drought will end. That’s tough to answer, said Deirdre Kann, chief scientist at the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office.

“Even if we have near normal monsoons, we will probably still have drought conditions at the end of it,” she said during a conference call with forecasters.

It would take as much as 10 inches of rain this summer to bring some parts of the state out of drought.

Predictions of more above-normal temperatures further complicate New Mexico’s situation, forecasters said.

A state task force plans to do an analysis of the drought and its effects on New Mexico’s natural resources and various sectors of the economy.

Agriculture officials reported that pastures in Santa Fe and Rio Arriba counties continue to dry out, and ranchers are struggling to feed and water their livestock.

The case is the same in Luna and Grant counties in the south. Like last year, officials said some ranchers are facing the prospect of having to sell off all or part of their herds.

Most Read in News



Arts & Entertainmentarrow




Call Us

View full site

© The Durango Herald