Better late than never, the first snow-bearing winter storm of the season is bearing down on New Mexico.
Winter doesn’t officially start until Dec. 21, but the National Weather Service issued its first winter storm watch of the year Thursday afternoon for the high country of north-central New Mexico as a wet Pacific storm barreled south across the Great Basin.
A few inches of snow is expected beginning this evening above 6,500 feet in the Jemez, San Juan and Sangre de Cristo mountains, according to the Weather Service. Before the storm is done, parts of northern New Mexico’s high country could see 6 to 10 inches of snow, which would be the first major accumulation of the winter 2012-13 snow season.
In Albuquerque, isolated rain showers are possible today, with an increasing chance of rain on Saturday, according to the Weather Service. But with just a 30 percent chance of rain forecast for Saturday, that means it is more likely that it won’t rain, than that it will, according to the Weather Service.
Whether the metro area sees rain or not, it will definitely see wind and colder temperatures from the storm, said National Weather Service Albuquerque meteorologist Todd Shoemake.
After Thursday’s high of 68, temperatures will slowly decline over the next several days, with a high in the 40s forecast by Sunday.
The last measurable precipitation at the Weather Service’s Albuquerque rain gauge fell Sept. 13, and the state’s snow measurement sites across the state’s mountain ranges are all either completely dry or well below normal for this time of year. Three quarters of the state is in severe drought or worse, according to the weekly federal Drought Monitor report published Thursday.
“It’s coming later than we wanted,” Shoemake said of the state’s first big snow-maker.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal