New Mexico’s runoff problem in two graphs

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — In a story for last Saturday’s paper, I pointed to the increasingly serious problems as New Mexico’s snowpack begins to melt out:

The problem, according to Raymond Abeyta of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, is that the early snowmelt does not appear to be showing up yet in the streams and rivers that provide the state’s water supply. “We’re not really seeing it,” Abeyta said.

David Gensler, the water manager for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, pointed me today to a helpful example. First, here’s today’s graph of the automated snow measurement site at Quemazon, in the Jemez:

Quemazon snotel

Quemazon snotel

That lightish blue line at the bottom is the snowpack disappearing beginning around the first of March. Now here’s the USGS stream gauge on the Jemez River. At a time when the Jemez should be rising steadily with the spring snowmelt, just a few days’ blip, then nuthin’:



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