ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — No, it was not an illusion or wishful thinking. The streets and sidewalks throughout the Albuquerque area really were wet from rain.
A storm that worked its way eastward through the state arrived in Albuquerque on Wednesday night and stuck around until early Thursday afternoon, leaving behind 0.44 inch of rain as measured at the Albuquerque International Sunport.
It was the most precipitation we’ve had since the beginning of 2018, said Roger Smith, a meteorologist at the Albuquerque office of the National Weather Service. Total rainfall since the beginning of the year is just 0.47 inch.
That previous 0.03 inch, also recorded at the airport, broke a city dry spell that had stretched to 96 days without measurable precipitation, the fifth-longest such period since 1891. The longest such period is 109 days, in 1902.
Although this recent storm is welcome, don’t read too much into it, Smith said. “This was a good event, but in terms of changing drought categories, it will have minimal impact. We’re going to need a lot more.”
More than 93 percent of New Mexico is experiencing drought conditions, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s drought monitor map, released on Jan. 25. Of that 93 percent, about 60 percent is categorized as severe drought, 34 percent as moderate drought and less than 6.5 percent is classified as abnormally dry.
This storm, which entered the southwestern part of the state and moved northeast, doesn’t change the drought map, though some portions of the state, even some parts of Albuquerque, received generous amounts of moisture.
In the Albuquerque area, the largest localized rainfall was measured in the Sandia foothills, where up to 1.13 inches fell, Smith said. Generally, rainfall averaged from 0.2 to 0.6 inch across the city and from 0.10 to 0.25 inch across Rio Rancho.
The storm also left some measurable snowfall, good news for the state’s ski areas.
Sandia Peak received 11.5 inches near the tram, with 8 inches at the base. Other ski area accumulations were 5 inches at Angel Fire, 6 inches at Pajarito, 4 inches at Red River, 10 inches at Sipapu, 12 inches at Ski Santa Fe, and 6 inches at Taos Ski Valley.
Today’s Albuquerque-area forecast called for the possibility of light rain. Heavier rainfall, of a quarter- to a half-inch, was forecast south of Interstate 40 to Socorro and Truth or Consequences, Smith said.
The weekend forecast for the Albuquerque area called for mostly dry conditions, with a return to above-normal temperatures. Measurable moisture was not in the forecast for next week, Smith said.