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Latest long-term forecast: Hot and dry through June

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Dry begets dry.

That was Albuquerque National Weather Service meteorologist Deirdre Kann’s concern Thursday as she reviewed the latest drought forecasts for New Mexico.

Thursday’s monthly forecast maps, from the weather service’s Climate Prediction Center, call for New Mexico drought to persist at least through June, with odds favoring lower-than-normal precipitation and higher-than-normal temperatures.

Coming off of two years that have been the warmest in more than a century of New Mexico weather record keeping, and nearly the driest, New Mexico is reaching the point at which drought conditions can lead to a dangerous feedback loop, Kann said.

“Dry soil won’t initiate a drought,” Kann said in an interview Thursday, “but it’s certainly a feedback. Dry soil will act to maintain or exacerbate a drought.”

And dry soil is what you’ll find across much of New Mexico, especially across the eastern plains, Kann said.

Fifty percent of New Mexico is currently classified as being in “extreme drought” by the weekly federal Drought Monitor, with low mountain snowpack and a big bull’s-eye over the state’s eastern plains.

For water managers, the dry soil in the state’s watersheds means some of the spring and summer runoff ends up simply soaking into the ground rather than making it into New Mexico’s rivers. But the parched landscape also affects the atmosphere in a way that makes it harder for rain to reach the ground, Kann said.
— This article appeared on page C1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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