Forecasters: New Mexico should brace for worsening drought

Dec 23, 2021, 11:18 AM | Updated: 3:47 pm
A finger of the Rio Grande flows near Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021. Forecasters wi...

A finger of the Rio Grande flows near Albuquerque, N.M., on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque say the last three months have been very dry for many parts of New Mexico and more warm, dry weather is expected through the winter. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

(AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The last three months have been very dry in New Mexico and it’s only going to get worse.

That’s the word from forecasters with the National Weather Service and other climate experts in the state. They said during a meeting this week that New Mexico reservoirs continue to be far below historical averages and that ranchers are bracing for a winter with little moisture out on the range.

Some snow is expected in the higher elevation on Christmas Eve, but it will be less than the precipitation that has helped to ease drought conditions elsewhere in the West in recent weeks. Parts of California are in line for even more snow, but the latest drought map shows nearly half of the western region is still dealing with the most severe categories of drought.

Andrew Mangham, a senior hydrologist with the weather service in Albuquerque, shared a series of maps that showed chances are good for above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation for the next two weeks, the next month and into April.

“Really the story is we had a dry year that is getting worse and worse as we move through this second La Niña,” he said.

The benefits of a decent monsoon over the summer have all but evaporated and most of New Mexico missed out on any meaningful moisture in the fall, Mangham said. The far northern reaches of the state saw some snow earlier this month, but he said New Mexico would need a lot more of that to get snowpack levels closer to normal for this time of year.

Stream flows? Soil moisture levels? Mangham said it’s the same story and it doesn’t look good heading into the next year.

“Everything is just getting drier,” he repeated.

Ranchers say they are feeling the pinch, and farmers who rely on traditional irrigation systems called acequias say they’re worried about having water for crops next spring.

Bone dry with winds that make it even drier is how Paula Garcia described the conditions. As head of the New Mexico Acequia Association, she hears firsthand about the challenges from family farms and individual growers.

“Last year, we had some snow in late 2020 and we had a very dry spring with little or no runoff. This year, the past few months are worse. If this continues, we wonder if there will be any snowmelt in the spring,” she said.

The association is planning a series of meetings among acequia leaders to talk about the year ahead in terms of sharing observations about the drought, dealing with scarcity and conflicts, and addressing the need for more water-sharing agreements for those areas that will need it most.

In Nara Visa, a small village near the New Mexico-Texas state line, rancher Cliff Copeland talks about the dust and its effects on his cattle. He and other ranchers already had cut back their herds last year due to dry conditions then. Summer rains helped the grasslands recover somewhat so that in combination with smaller herds will help heading into the winter but growing feeds costs are worrisome, he said.

“It’s very seldom you go and not get hardly any measurable precipitation this time of year so it’s very concerning,” he said. “It’s possibly devastating and it sure has everyone’s attention.”

For Copeland, who serves as a regional vice president with the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, doing more with less is a key part of the equation that has helped to keep the family ranch humming for four generations.

“It’s part of the evolution,” he said. “… So being able to pass this along to the children and grandchildren and sustain our operation as we’ve done for so long is extremely important to us.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Andrew Giuliani, left, a Republican candidate for Governor of New York, is joined by his fat...
Associated Press

Andrew Giuliani invokes famous dad in bid for NY governor

NEW YORK (AP) — After 2020, Rudy Giuliani is not someone most politicians would summon to hold a news conference on their behalf. As the frontman of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud, Giuliani made notorious appearances before cameras where he espoused baseless theories — once while doing an impression of actor […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Home prices, General Mills earns, consumer spending

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week: HOME PRICE MONITOR A limited inventory of homes for sale coupled with strong demand has helped keep U.S. home prices climbing sharply. S&P’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index tracks the value of homes in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas. It […]
22 hours ago
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz with from left, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commi...
Associated Press

G-7 leaders set to commit to long haul in backing Ukraine

ELMAU, Germany (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven economic powers are set to commit themselves to the long haul in supporting Ukraine as they meet in the German Alps and confer by video link with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. The G-7 leaders will begin Monday’s session of their three-day summit with a focus […]
22 hours ago
People wearing face masks walk past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index in ...
Associated Press

Asian shares rally after Wall Street logs rare winning week

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian shares advanced Monday after Wall Street ended a rare winning week, capped by a 3.1% gain on Friday for the benchmark S&P 500. U.S. futures and oil prices also were higher. Optimism over China’s progress in controlling coronavirus outbreaks, as schools and businesses reopen, was also fueling buying, analysts said. Stocks […]
22 hours ago
Tom Cruise gestures for photographers during the red carpet event to promote their latest movie Top...
Associated Press

‘Elvis,’ ‘Top Gun’ tie for box-office crown with $30.5M each

"Elvis" shook up theaters with an estimated $30.5 million in weekend sales, but -- in a box-office rarity -- it tied "Top Gun: Maverick."
22 hours ago
The Colorado Avalanche celebrate after the team defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of the N...
Associated Press

Avalanche dethrone Lightning to win Stanley Cup for 3rd time

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Nathan MacKinnon could not find the words. Gabriel Landeskog cracked a smile and a joke. After years of playoff disappointments, the Colorado Avalanche are back atop hockey’s mountain after dethroning the two-time defending champions. Behind a goal and an assist from MacKinnon, the Avalanche won the Stanley Cup for the third […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Update your child’s vaccines before kindergarten

So, your little one starts kindergarten soon. How exciting! You still have a few months before the school year starts, so now’s the time to make sure students-to-be have the vaccines needed to stay safe as they head into a new chapter of life.
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
Forecasters: New Mexico should brace for worsening drought