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Monsoon season settling in

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico has settled into a normal monsoon season, but whether you are experiencing any rainfall depends on location, location, location.

Rainfall was about normal for July, although totals varied widely across the state, with Albuquerque a bit drier than normal. Northwestern New Mexico and the eastern plains have received more than their share in recent weeks.

“We’re getting nice afternoon showers scattered all over the valley, in different places on different days,” said David Gensler, water operations director for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District.

Farmers who depend on water distributed by the agency are less desperate for water deliveries than they were a month ago, when New Mexico was hotter and drier than normal.

“With these scattered rains around the valley, and as much as anything, the cooler temperatures and increased humidity, our demand is noticeably less,” Gensler said.

“It’s not so hot and so darn dry that people are desperate for water,” he said. “It doesn’t really stop people from using water, but it reduces some of the urgency.”

Farmers also continue to benefit from high river flows this spring that allowed MRGCD to fill El Vado Lake on the Rio Chama, giving the agency ample water to release to irrigators, he said.

The monsoon has favored some areas over others, but precipitation is about normal statewide, according to the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

Rainfall at Albuquerque International Sunport measured 0.85 inch in July, compared with the average of 1.5 inches for the month, the agency said.

Monsoon weather cranked up July 9, ending a period of hot, dry weather. Showers and thunderstorms built throughout late July, bringing some flash flooding late in the month, the agency reported.

Meteorologists say New Mexico’s monsoon season lasts from June 15 to Sept. 30.

Storms this year have been slow-moving, limiting rainfall to small areas and increasing the risk of flash flooding, said Randall Hergert, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Albuquerque.

“The storms aren’t moving very fast, so they are not covering a very large area when they dump their rain,” Hergert said Wednesday. “That does increase the flash flood risk because all the rain is falling in one place, so that place is going to get hammered.”

Albuquerque firefighters rescued a driver and two children without injury on July 17 after a flash flood stranded their car near Tanoan Country Club. Officials warn drivers not to attempt to cross water that covers roads or bridges.

The weather pattern this season has been marked by so-called back-door fronts that enter the state from the northeast, bringing cool, moist air that favors thunderstorms in the northeast, Hergert said.

Clayton, in far northeastern New Mexico, got 3.88 inches of rainfall in July, compared with the average of 2.66 for the month, making July the 21st-wettest on record in that area.

Roswell got 1.68 inches of rainfall in July, slightly below the normal of 2.06 inches.

New Mexico can expect another such storm front today, bringing a good chance of strong thunderstorms to the northern mountains and the eastern plains, where temperatures are expected to dip into the low 70s.

In Albuquerque, a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms tonight and Friday will increase to 40 percent by the weekend, with high temperatures in the low 90s and lows in the 60s, the agency forecasts.

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