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Storm breaks ABQ’s dry spell

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Albuquerque’s 54-day dry streak came to an abrupt and rowdy end Monday as a thunderstorm armed with rattling hail rumbled through the city like a runaway freight train.

The hit-and-run storm pummeled the Albuquerque area with hard rain and hail, pea size and larger, in a 40-minute dash that started about 2:15 p.m.

By 3 p.m., 0.12 inch of rain had been recorded at the Albuquerque airport, the city’s official weather-monitoring station. However, rain ranging from about half an inch to nearly three-quarters of an inch was reported in other parts of the area.

“Hurray for rain,” Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the Albuquerque office of the National Weather Service, said during a Monday weather briefing just minutes before the storm broke.

But the end of the arid spell arrived with such fierceness it may have had some people thinking we should be careful of what we wish for.

The weather service’s Albuquerque office said it received reports of 0.73 inch at Griegos and Rio Grande, 0.48 inch at Paseo del Norte and Tramway, 0.45 inch at Indian School and Tramway, and 0.52 inch at Northern and Rockaway in Rio Rancho.

The weather service said the Very Large Array radio telescope site, 50 miles west of Socorro, reported 0.74-inch hail.

More rain was expected Monday night through today and even into Wednesday in the southeastern part of the state. Jones said Monday night was Albuquerque’s best shot for additional rain.

“We have two or three days of active thunderstorms and severe weather,” Jones said. “We are dealing with thunderstorms, so it will be hit-or-miss, but more areas than not will get good, wetting rain.”

Ginger and Phil Young of Grand Rapids, Mich., try to stay dry Monday in Old Town. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

Rain, even when it plays rough, is welcome n a year this dry. Before Monday’s storm, Albuquerque had received only a trace of rain this month and its year-to-date total was 0.72 inch, compared with the 2.36 inches that is normal for this point of the year.

And although 54 days is a long time to go without rain, Albuquerque experienced an even longer dry spell recently.

When Albuquerque received 0.03 inch on Jan. 10, that little bit of moisture ended a 96-day stretch without measurable precipitation, the fifth-longest such period since 1891. Albuquerque’s record period without rain is 109 days, set in 1902.

Jones said the thunderstorms will be moving east today and Wednesday, and by Thursday would be isolated and scattered storms from Ruidoso over to Clovis.

Things start to dry out on Friday, he said, and Saturday and Sunday will be drier and windier.

But, for now, hurray for rain.