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Storm Track Shift Holds N.M. Promise

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — North America’s winter storm track seems finally to have found New Mexico.

The second storm in a less than a week swept the state with rain and snow Friday, with another wave of wet in the forecast for today and the possibility of another storm queued up for the middle of next week, according to Kerry Jones at the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office.

After a dry spell that began in September, the shift means the jet stream that carries winter storms across North America has found New Mexico — “for now,” Jones said Friday.

Friday’s storm was modest, but dropped enough precipitation — 3 or 4 inches — to close Los Alamos National Laboratory for the day.

In Albuquerque, a tenth of an inch of rain fell across the Northeast Heights, according to the National Weather Service, with 0.05 inches at the service’s airport rain gauge. It was a warm storm — Friday morning’s low in Albuquerque, as the core of the rain passed through the city, was 38, which is 12 degrees above average.

The storm dumped more precipitation in the high country, according to Jones.

The federal snow survey site at Chamita, on the New Mexico-Colorado border, received 8 inches of new snow. Taos Powderhorn in the Sangre de Cristo mountains received 6 inches, according to measurements at the federal snow survey site there.


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That is still far behind normal for this time of year. Even after the storm, snow measurement sites in the San Juan Mountains, which provide a large portion of New Mexico’s water when the snow melts in spring, were below half of normal for this time of year. As a result, federal water managers have already warned some New Mexico water users they may see reduced allocations next year.

The reason is a storm track that has been stuck, persistently, to our north, leaving the Pacific Northwest wet while New Mexico and the southern tier of states are dry.

Today’s storm is forecast to move into the state from Arizona this morning, bringing more water to the state’s western and northern mountains.

In Albuquerque, the chance of rain turning to snow is 20 to 30 percent during the day, increasing to 60 percent this evening, according to the Weather Service.

The next storm could arrive Wednesday, with a chance of rain or snow showers, according to the Weather Service.
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal