That Was One Heavy Monsoon, But Dry Winter Ahead

Oct 19, 2013

Heavy rainfall in September made that month the wettest in New Mexico history. The prolonged monsoon season pleased residents who've become habituated to drought, winter and its expected low precipitation will be disappointing.

Credit National Weather Service

The Albuquerque Journal reports federal forecasters announced Thursday that New Mexico’s drought conditions will persist with less snow and rain in the forecast this winter. Recently improved drought conditions caused by heavy summer rains are likely to deteriorate.

New Mexico state climatologist Dave Dubois says he's more concerned about increasingly higher temperatures.   They drive up evaporation rates and cause precipitation to fall as rain rather than snow, which reduces spring runoff in the mountains.

Warmer and dryer conditions will also affect reservoirs decreasing the amount water usually gathered as the snow melts.  Pumping groundwater for municipal supplies across the state will not be easy, and towns in New Mexico are already struggling with less water now.   

The National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office reports three quarters of the state is still experiencing moderate to extreme drought conditions.

The town of Magdalena in Socorro County was hit especially hard this year when the city’s municipal well nearly dried up. Residents were forced to boil what little tap water they could or use water hauled in by truck. They also had to use public porta-potties instead of toilets in their own homes.

The forecasted dry winter and increasingly harsh drought conditions are expected to affect drinking water supplies in rural communities in many parts of the state.