Pleasanton, Photo by David Thornburg

New Mexico and other areas across the Southwest U.S. are affected by the North American Monsoon System (NAMS) every summer, and the “Monsoon Season” is designated as the period lasting from June 15th through September 30th. With the onset of the Monsoon, New Mexico is typically impacted by a variety of weather hazards that can often put the population at risk for serious injury or death. Thunderstorm frequency increases during this period, while exceptionally hot days are common as well.  These pages were prepared to help promote awareness of the life-threatening weather hazards that affect New Mexico during the Summer Monsoon.

Special Multimedia Awareness Clips:

Sunday: Introduction/Science of the Monsoon
Monday: Flash Floods
Tuesday: Lightning
Wednesday: Downburst Winds
Thursday: Dust Storms
Friday: Heat Stress

Despite the desert environment of the Land of Enchantment, statistics indicate that significant weather events associated with the Monsoon are responsible for property damage, injuries and fatalities across the state every single year. Since 2011, monsoon related events were responsible for at least five fatalities in New Mexico.

As a result, we urge all residents and visitors to become familiar with the hazards associated with the Summer Monsoon. Please take the time to review safety rules that could save your life or help prevent serious injury. Community governments and businesses should review their emergency action preparedness plans and are urged to conduct drills to train staff and employees in flash flood procedures.


The best way to avoid lightning, flash floods, and other dangerous weather events during the monsoon season is by staying alert of the weather conditions and avoiding the threat before it occurs. Many opportunities are available to gain weather information including:

  • Monitoring current weather forecasts on TV or the internet.
  • Listening to weather reports on the radio or a NOAA weather radio.
  • Subscribing to lightning and severe weather notification services.
  • Scanning the skies 360 degrees around and overhead before leaving a safe location.

Understanding Watches, Warnings, and Advisories:

Watches (Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood, and Tornado, for example) mean that widespread severe weather or flash flooding is possible. A watch means that severe weather or flash flooding has not yet occurred, but weather conditions are becoming highly volatile. Pay close attention to the weather, and tune into TV, radio, or NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts regularly.

Warnings (Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood, Tornado, Dust Storm, Excessive Heat) mean that life-threatening weather is about to occur, or has been reported. Take action immediately.

Areal Flood Advisories mean heavy rains will cause minor flooding of washes, streams, and typical flood-prone areas. Flooding in this situation is usually not serious. If the flooding does become life threatening, then the flood advisory is upgraded to a Flood Warning.

Warnings are not issued for lightning, mainly because thunderstorms, no matter how weak, can produce deadly cloud-to-ground lightning. Any time thunderstorms are in the area, lightning is a serious threat. This is supported by the fact lightning is the number one killer in New Mexico, with 86 deaths since 1959.

 
News media and New Mexico emergency managers or anyone needing information on Monsoon Season significant weather, or any other preparedness and planning, are invited to contact one of the following offices for details: 
Image of Albuquerque's County Warning Area
Northern and Central New Mexico (NWS Albuquerque NM)
Kerry Jones - Warning Coordination Meteorologist
(505) 244-9150 Ext. 223
   
Image of El Paso's County Warning Area within New Mexico
Southwest and South Central New Mexico (NWS El Paso TX)
John Fausett - Warning Coordination Meteorologist
(575) 589-4088 Ext. 223
   
Image of Midland's County Warning Area within New Mexico

Southeastern New Mexico (NWS Midland TX)
  Mark Strobin- Warning Coordination Meteorologist
(432) 563-5901 Ext. 223
   

 
 

Most of the statistics depicted on the Monsoon Awareness Week web pages were obtained using the publication Storm Data and Unusual Weather Phenomena, which contains chronological listings, by state, of hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, hail, floods, drought conditions, lightning, high winds, snow, temperature extremes and other weather phenomena. The reports are provided by the National Weather Service and contain statistics on personal injuries and damage estimates. Storm Data is a publication of the National Climatic Data Center.


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