...Drought Continues to Lessen Across New Mexico...
...Only 8% of the State is in Moderate Drought...
The current and past U.S. Drought Monitor map depictions of drought can be found at:
January - September 2015. Precipitation has been near to above normal across nearly all of New Mexico so far this year. The eight month period from January through August ranked as the 3rd wettest year on record. Spring snowmelt and subsequent runoff started early and was well below normal for the 5th year in a row. The well above normal temperatures through April were a major culprit for the receeding snowpack this spring. May arrived and a very active weather pattern ensued over central and eastern areas. Nearly daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms produced heavy rainfall, some of which produced flash flooding over the eastern plains. June remained active with scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms. Locally heavy rainfall impacted the northern high terrain where flash flooding was reported. Short-term drought conditions were cleared from the east while significant improvements were made to central and portions of western New Mexico. July saw the development of a robust monsoon pattern over the area with additional flash flooding. More heavy rainfall added to the already impressive yearly precipitation totals, especially the eastern plains where upwards of 15 to 25 inches of rain has fallen this year. The monsoon diminished in August and September as precipitation was mostly below normal, aside from portions of the eastern plains. The graphic below is derived from the PRISM Drought Indicator Tool and shows the precipitation departure from normal (percent of average precipitation) for 2015 so far (through September). For more detailed information on the PRISM precipitation analysis click here.
February 2015. Precipitation was below to well below normal for much of New Mexico through the first three weeks of February. But the final week of the month was exceptionally active with widespread snow, some of it heavy. While the southwest remained below normal, the northeast was above to well above normal. By the end of the month snowpack hovered slightly above normal in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and slightly below normal in the San Juan and Jemez Mountains
March 2015. Above normal precipitation was the rule for much of central and southern New Mexico. The Northeast Plains and the Northwest Plateau did not faired as well with the bulk of the wetting precipitation events missing these areas.
April 2015. Dry, windy and warm conditions dominated the first 10 days April. A couple of showers skirted across portions of southern New Mexico otherwise it was precipitation free across the Land of Enchantment. Then an impressive rain event unfolded across the southeast third of the state on the 12th and 13th. Numerous one to two inch rainfall amounts were reported across Lincoln, Chaves and Roosevelt counties. A minor to moderate snow event helped bring some precipitation to the north on the 18th. A welcome, widespread rain and high northern mountain snow event impacted the state from the 26th into the 28th.
May 2015. May delivered well above normal precipitation to most of New Mexico as almost daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms impacted the state. The exception was over southwestern areas where well below normal precipitation was reported. Several heavy precipitation events were noted across eastern areas where as much as 4 to 7 inches of rainfall were reported for the month. Some parts of De Baca, Curry, and Quay counties saw those numbers in just a single week between the 18th and the 23rd when flash flooding impacted the area. The May moisture mayhem was able to wipe out short-term drought conditions from all of eastern New Mexico, and significantly improve status within the Rio Grande Valley and nearby higher terrain.
June 2015. The first half of June carried over the active pattern from May. Widespread areas of Arizona into the Four Corners region picked up heavy precipitation during a normally dry and hot period. The remainder of New Mexico experienced daily rounds of shower and storm activity, particularly in an area stretching from Sierra and Socorro counties northeastward into the east central and northeast plains. By the second half of the month, convection began favoring the higher terrain and the high plains during the afternoon and evening hours. Locally heavy rainfall impacted areas within the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains. Otherwise, in comparison the end of the month ended on a slightly quieter note for most of the state.
July 2015. July was yet another very active month as a robust monsoon pattern settled into New Mexico. Abundant moisture and instability offered daily rounds of showers and thunderstorms, some of which persisted through the overnight hours on several occasions. The area from the Continental Divide across the middle Rio Grande Valley into the east central and northeast plains did very well, with above to well above normal precipitation. Some areas of western and central New Mexico picked up 2 to 4 inches of rain, with locally higher amounts over 5 inches. A particularly active period from July 6th to the 8th dumped a majority of the these heavier amounts. East central and northeast New Mexico really racked it up in July, especially around Clayton where over 7 inches was reported. Not everyone experienced the wet pattern however. The area around Roswell and Artesia was very dry and hot where much of the month saw highs above 100 degrees.
August 2015. The month was varied in regards to precipitation. Northeast and east central areas benefited the most from above normal rainfall as well as the far southeast. Other areas were near to below normal.
September 2015. The monthly precipitation was below normal over much of the state. The exceptions were in the southwest and spotty locations across the eastern plains, where precipitation was near to above normal.
For previous months and years (back to 2002) click here. Make sure you click the circle by "Precipitation Summary".
October 2014 - July 2015. Average precipitation through the first ten months of the 2015 Water Year was 137% of normal. Many areas of the state have done very well for the Water Year, particularly the eastern plains and Continental Divide area.
The official NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlook for New Mexico precipitation during October 2015 strongly favors above normal precipitation, especially over the southern three quarters of the state. The outlook from October through December 2015 also strongly favors above normal precipitation across New Mexico.
The seasonal outlook below indicates remaining moderate drought in western New Mexico will likely be removed late this summer through the fall.
US Seasonal Drought Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center
(click map to enlarge)
Reservoir storage is below capacity at nearly all lakes across the state. Average statewide reservoir storage was only 29 percent of capacity as of September 1, 2015. Despite above normal precipitation this year and a sharp reduction in short term drought conditions, it is readily apparent that long term, hydrological drought is very much still with us.
You can use the link below to see the current percent of storage capacity at all the major New Mexico dams (click on "Submit Query"):
All public lands, National Parks and Monuments, BLM lands, State Parks and tribal lands are open across New Mexico. There are some stage one fire restrictions, though. Click on the link below, then scroll down to New Mexico.
Below is a map of real-time streamflow compared to historical streamflow for the current day of the year. Click on the image to take you to the USGS site.
New Mexico Water Watch from the USGS
(click map to enlarge image)
1. CPC (Climate Prediction Center) forecasters (top graphic) and models (lower graphic) continue to strongly indicate El Nino conditions will continue through all of 2015 and into early 2016. An El Nino advisory is now in effect.
2. Below is an animation of the weekly U.S. Drought monitor for the past 6 weeks across the United States. There has been a significant reduction in drought conditions across New Mexico this year. Only the far west has been holding onto moderate drought conditions in recent weeks.
External Links and Sites
This product will be updated in mid October, or sooner if necessary in response to significant changes in weather, water supply or drought conditions.
The U.S. Drought Monitor is a multi-agency effort involving the NOAA National Weather Service and National Climatic Data Center, the USDA, State and Regional Climate Centers and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Information for this statement has been gathered from the NWS and FAA observation sites, state cooperative extension services, the U.S. Geological Survey and other government agencies.
If you have any questions or comments about this drought information statement, please contact:
National Weather Service
or by e-mail to: