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State looks to tropical storm for relief from drought

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly reflect the location of Tropical Storm Bud. 

Moisture from a tropical storm brewing south of Baja California is expected to cause a New Mexico deluge this weekend, and meteorologists say the first rainfall of the monsoon season could be close behind.

National Weather Service meteorologist Kerry Jones said Wednesday that on Friday and Saturday, parts of central and western New Mexico could get as much as 2 inches of rain.

That rain could cause flash flooding, especially along burn scars, Jones said.

“Complex terrain, hydrophobic (water-repelling) soil,” he said. “It’s just a recipe for disaster and that’s what we’re going to be facing.”

Tropical Storm Bud was nearing the west coast of Mexico as of Wednesday evening.

Jones said remnants of the storm will travel into New Mexico from the Pacific and will likely dissipate before Sunday.

Albuquerque can expect a quarter-inch to a half-inch of rain from the storm.

Jones warned that conditions could become hazardous on and near burn scars, denuded areas where fires have stripped the landscape of trees, plants and detritus. Some of them are near major highways.

The Buzzard, Ute Park and Soldier Canyon burn scars are of particular concern.

The state will likely dry out Sunday and Monday, Jones said, but some areas will get wet again in the middle of next week from storms he described as having a “monsoon pattern.”

“We’ve kind of been looking forward to what could be considered an early start to the monsoon season and this could be it,” Jones said.

While the monsoon season is designated as June 15 through Sept. 30, Jones said that on average, the season starts near the beginning of July.

The season will still probably last through the end of September.

That could be good news for the drought-stricken state.

As of Wednesday, Albuquerque’s rainfall was 1.3 inches below the normal year-to-date levels of 2.71 inches.

“A longer season is usually good news in terms of coming up to or over the average rainfall,” Jones said.

Exceptionally dry conditions have prompted the closure of public lands and irrigation restrictions throughout the state, 88 percent of which remains in severe to exceptional drought.