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Wet storm system breaks NM records

Families make their way through the rain Friday on the University of New Mexico campus to attend the communication and journalism graduation ceremony. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

An unseasonable and wet weather system has dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas of the northern mountains, nearly 2 inches of rain in some parts of the state and record-low high temperatures in Albuquerque in the past couple of days.

And the below-average temperatures and moisture won’t be going away until the early part of next week.

“This is part of an El Niño pattern that is continuing into spring,” National Weather Service meteorologist Sharon Sullivan said. “We’re (the Albuquerque area) off to the wettest start since 2007.”

The high temperature at the Albuquerque International Sunport was 51 degrees Friday, shattering the record for the lowest high temperature of 55 degrees for May 10 set in 1932. The temperature on the date in 2018 was 92 degrees.

Highs in many parts of the state were in the 40s and 50s, with the exception of the southwestern region.

“Many areas were 20 to 30 degrees below normal,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said precipitation was scattered throughout the state, but the heavier amounts of rain and snow fell across the northern part of New Mexico.

The northern mountains were under a winter storm warning Friday, with the warning extended until this morning in some areas.

By Friday afternoon, Angel Fire received 18 inches of snow. An area eight miles northeast of Arroyo received 17 inches, areas near Eagles Nest and Canon Plaza each received 10 inches.

And the snowfall wasn’t limited to the northern mountains. Parts of the Albuquerque area received as much as 2.5 inches of snow. A half-inch of snow fell in an area near Clovis, and a trace fell as far south as San Antonio in Socorro County.

Although the last of the winter storm warnings are expected to expire this morning, Sullivan said there was still a chance of light accumulations in the higher elevations of the northern mountains through the weekend.

The highest rainfall amount, 1.82 inches, was recorded in Tierra Amarilla, in northern New Mexico, and Sullivan said that precipitation may have been mixed with snow. A total of 1.59 inches was recorded north of Alcalde, 1.37 in Valdez, 1.18 in Los Alamos, 1.12 near Mills and 1.08 near Tucumcari.

“A lot of areas, like Taos, Grants and Pecos, received more than a half-inch,” Sullivan said.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park tweeted a rain photo and said the park received 10% of its annual average rainfall in one night on Thursday. The park, which averages eight inches of rainfall, received 0.85 inch of rain.

Rainfall in the Albuquerque area ranged from 0.10 inch to 0.35 inch. A total of 2.76 inches of rain has been recorded so this year in Albuquerque, about a half-inch above normal. In 2007, 3.45 inches fell by this time of year.

Showers and thunderstorms remain in the forecast for much of the state through the weekend. Temperatures will gradually climb but still remain below normal.

The high in Albuquerque today is expected to be 65, and highs in the 60s are forecast through Monday.