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Monsoon Watch: summer rains offer little drought relief

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three weeks into our summer monsoon season, the rains have brought little relief for New Mexico’s drought conditions, according to the latest federal Drought Monitor, published this morning:

The explanation (“D2” = severe drought, “D3″= extreme):

The West:  Monsoon showers dropped locally an inch or more of rain to parts of the West, but amounts were mostly less than half an inch.  D3 was eliminated in extreme southern Arizona, D2 and D3 were pulled back slightly in parts of New Mexico, and D0 shrank in western Montana.  But D3 expanded in western Nevada and D0-D2 grew in central to northern California (mostly in the San Joaquin Valley).  Over 80 percent of the topsoil was rated short or very short of moisture in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.  Three-fourths (75 percent) or more of the pasture and rangeland was classified as poor or very poor in California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado.

The problem is the state’s deep rainfall deficit. Here are some numbers of actual rainfall for the first six months of 2012 and the deficit from normal, courtesy Ed Polasko at the National Weather Service (the first number is actual rainfall, the second number with the minus sign in front is the deficit):

  • Bosque del Apache 0.84 inches -1.52 inches
  • Clines Corners 1.72 -4.50
  • Santa Fe 2 1.51 -3.39
  • Fort Sumner 5S 0.57 -4.21
  • Portales 2.22 -4.41
  • Estancia 4N 1.39 -2.83
  • Elephant Butte Dam 0.38 -1.98
  • Glenwood 0.74 -4.27
  • Zuni 1.14 -2.89
  • Gallup Airport 1.50 -2.40
  • Farmington Ag Cntr 0.76 –


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