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Abundance of rain turning southern New Mexico green

LAS CRUCES — It’s not quite what Gabriel Lawson is used to in and around Las Cruces.

The landscape is green, almost lush, and he and many residents are beginning to notice.

“I’m retired now and I like to go day camping,” Lawson said. “You know, those trips just for the day where you can get out and enjoy a little nature.”

Lawson, 67, ended an almost 40-year career as a civil engineer earlier this year. Hiking, camping and outdoor activities have been his stress buster for years. Now, those activities fill most of his days.

“I’m still not at the point of my life where I just want to sit at home and take naps,” he said. “I’ve got the time now to be outside and I’m taking advantage of it.”

Lawson is also more aware of the changes happening around him. With a wetter-than-usual year so far, he’s seen the areas near Las Cruces become greener because of the rains.

“I really haven’t thought about it until this weekend,” Lawson said. “But I was out at Dripping Springs and realized the springs were actually flowing. I admit, I haven’t paid too much attention to that before, but I thought it was pretty neat.”

Through Tuesday, 6.99 inches of rain has fallen at the Las Cruces International Airport. Even more has fallen in numerous areas across the city, including a little more than 8 inches on Las Cruces’ East Mesa, and almost 8 inches in downtown Las Cruces. At the Las Cruces Sun-News, 7.89 inches of rain has fallen since Jan. 1, according to data collected by the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

Since May, 5.2 inches of rain has fallen at the Sun-News.

The chance for more rain is on the rise. September has become Las Cruces’ wettest month because of summer monsoon rains. Last year, 3.66 inches fell at Las Cruces International Airport and 1.22 inches was recorded there in September 2013.

Las Crucen Charlotte Galvan has also seen much of Las Cruces and the surrounding areas get greener.

“I was driving on I-10 last week and it struck me that a lot of the land between here and El Paso has gotten pretty lush,” Galvan said. “For as far as you can see, it’s green. I’m enjoying it.”

But Mercedes Perea has a different perspective.

“I’ve had to mow my lawn more this summer,” Perea said. “I noticed there’s a lot more weeds to pull, and the weeds are growing taller at some of the houses in my neighborhood. That’s a problem for me because my allergies have started kicking in earlier than they have in the last five years.”

Las Cruces codes enforcement officers remind property owners they are obligated to remove weeds and overgrown vegetation. Added rain this year has been a boon for plant life.

Weeds, small branches, cut vegetation, and other yard or green waste can be dumped at the Foothills Landfill, 555 S. Sonoma Ranch Blvd. The service is free for city residents.

Yard waste is composted and turned into mulch at the Foothills Landfill. City residents can also acquire free seasoned mulch at the landfill. Questions and concerns about weeds or overgrown properties can be directed to Las Cruces Codes Enforcement, 575-541-4100.

The summer monsoon season typically ends in September.

But with chances increasing for a strong El Niño this fall and winter, meteorologists and scientists believe more precipitation is coming. As of last week, the probability for a strong El Niño was about 90 percent. If that materializes, it could mean a wetter and cooler fall and winter in southern New Mexico.

“We’re overdue, way overdue, for something like that,” said Las Crucen Kyle Anderson. “We’ve been so dry for so long that I think a lot of folks probably wouldn’t mind a wetter and colder winter here. But, hopefully, it won’t get too bad.”

Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452.

Wetter than usual

Precipitation totals: Through Tuesday, Las Cruces has “officially” received 6.99 inches of rain and snow since Jan. 1. That is the amount of precipitation that has fallen at Las Cruces International Airport, the city’s official reporting station for the National Weather Service. However, since rain doesn’t fall in the same amounts everywhere, unofficial rainfall totals include 8.05 inches on the city’s East Mesa, according to, and 7.89 inches at the Las Cruces Sun-News, according to the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network.

More to come: Las Cruces’ summer monsoon season is from mid-June until the end of September. Typically, September is the wettest month of the year in Las Cruces. Last year, 3.66 inches of rain fell during September. Also, with as much of a 90 percent possibility of a strong El Niño this fall and winter, weather conditions are anticipated to be wetter and colder.

Las Cruces’ short-term forecast: Mostly sunny, with a high near 93 on Wednesday; a 10 percent chance for rain Thursday night, after a daytime high of 94; a 20 percent chance of isolated showers and thunderstorms Friday and Saturday; a 10 percent chance for rain Sunday, increasing to 20 percent Monday.


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