The National Weather Service in Albuquerque has issued a flash flood watch for all of central and western New Mexico through Sunday evening, while the best chance for storms Monday through Wednesday will be across the west-central and southwest mountains.
On Friday, there was flooding reported around Albuquerque and Santa Fe as a series of fast-moving storms dumped more than an inch of rain in less than an hour.
That resulted in massive amounts of runoff moving through the cities’ diversion channels and arroyos. In Albuquerque, the floodwaters reached 10 feet at one outflow channel, the highest that gauge has seen all year.
South of Santa Fe, motorists were stopped by floodwaters near N.M. 14, but no injuries or major damage were reported.
“The flash flooding observed Friday afternoon within the Santa Fe and Albuquerque metro areas essentially served as an appetizer for the flooding potential through this weekend,” senior forecaster Brian Guyer said in a warning issued late Friday.
He said a deeply saturated atmosphere combined with a weak flow was setting the stage for the more slow moving thunderstorms through the weekend. And that means the potential for torrential rainfall is high.
Any storm that develops under these conditions has the potential to dump as much as 2 inches of rain in an hour, he said.
Nationwide, there are no other states with drought conditions as severe and as widespread as those in New Mexico. Nearly two-fifths of the state is dealing with the two worst categories of drought — extreme and exceptional.
While the moisture has helped to ease the pains of the persistent drought, emergency management officials have been warning people to steer clear of diversion channels and arroyos to avoid being swept away by flash flooding.
Video and photographs taken by Albuquerque residents and shared on social media sites showed walls of brown, silt-laden water rushing through the city’s channels Friday.
Officials on the Santa Fe, Gila and Lincoln national forests were also worried about potential flooding in the areas scarred by recent wildfires. The threat of thunderstorms developing over the Thompson Ridge, Tres Lagunas and Whitewater-Baldy scars is greater than 60 percent through Sunday, according to the weather service.