Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Some areas of New Mexico are experiencing their wettest monsoon season in 130 years, a drastic turnaround from earlier this summer.
Scott Overpeck, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque, said it will “take quite a bit of rainfall” to completely erase statewide drought conditions.
“But we’ve got a good start,” he said.
Less than 1% of New Mexico is in the most severe level of “exceptional” drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
That number was about 45% at the beginning of June.
Parts of Cibola, Catron and Grant counties have had their wettest monsoon season since 1893.
Far southwest New Mexico has recorded the region’s third-wettest summer since that year.
Forecasts show that steady monsoon rains could continue through September.
“Last year, it seemed like right around the end of August, the monsoon season kind of flipped on us and turned off,” Overpeck said. “Hopefully we hold on to this moisture and thunderstorm activity.”
The rain has been beneficial for crops and rangeland across New Mexico as many farmers and ranchers enter harvest season.
About 38% of New Mexico’s pastures and rangeland are in good to excellent condition, compared to 24% at this time last year, according to U.S. Agriculture Department statistics.
The USDA’s weekly crop progress report notes that “a week of solid rainfall” has boosted apple and chile crops in Rio Arriba County.
Many livestock ponds in the state’s northwest and northeast corners are now full, so ranchers are getting a break from hauling water to cattle.
“There’s certainly a hit or miss nature to our monsoons,” Overpeck said. “The eastern areas have not seen quite as much rainfall as the central and western areas have.”
Isolated rainstorms are possible this week across New Mexico.
But Albuquerque is expected to be warm, with minimal rain chances.
Tuesday and Wednesday could reach a high of 87 degrees.
Thursday in Albuquerque may hit 88 degrees, with a 10% chance of rain in the city.
Friday will likely reach 90 degrees.