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Drought persists in northern New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As New Mexico prepares to enter monsoon season, much of the state is experiencing drought. The latest map released by the National Drought Mitigation Center with input from local experts shows about two-thirds of New Mexico in some stage of drought.

The June 4 drought conditions map for New Mexico. The darker colors represent more severe drought. (Source: National Drought Mitigation Center)

Dry conditions remain “fully entrenched” in northern New Mexico, said Royce Fontenot, senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service Albuquerque office. That’s partly because of underwhelming runoff and the “failure” of last year’s monsoon season.

“What looked to be initially a good snowpack turned into a less-than-good snowpack,” Fontenot said during a recent drought monitor phone call discussion. “We’re also starting to see a strong trend of dry conditions along the southern third of the state, by and large persistent dryness, particularly over the northeast plains, with mixed precipitation values elsewhere.”

Central and southeastern New Mexico are grappling with moderate drought or abnormally dry conditions, despite some heavy rain events in the past year. Fontenot said that doesn’t bode well for soil moisture or rangeland health.

Southwestern New Mexico appears to be doing well, with much of the region not registering any drought.

On the Rio Grande, runoff is “all about over,” said Raymond Abeyta of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Water managers adapt with targeted releases to manage river flows.

“We’re all running and operating, and the river is continuous,” Abeyta said. “We had some breaks south of San Acacia, but we had it wetted. As always, we just work with what we have.”

Theresa Davis is a Report for America corps member covering water and the environment for the Albuquerque Journal.


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