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Autumn drenching for New Mexico

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Storms that brought more than an inch of rain to parts of Albuquerque and Santa Fe on Wednesday, punishing hail to other parts of the state and snow to mountain peaks are expected to edge out of New Mexico into West Texas later today.

Jason Frazier, meteorologist with the Albuquerque office of the National Weather Service, said forecasts show the low pressure system moving to the northeast.

“We might see some showers through the morning hours” today, Frazier said Wednesday afternoon. “There will be decreasing chances through the day and into the evening.”

By 5 p.m. Wednesday, 0.58 of an inch of rain had been measured at the Albuquerque airport, the official recording site for the city. That put Albuquerque’s official rain total for October at 0.76 of an inch, just shy of the city’s normal rainfall total of 0.77 for this point in the month. The city’s normal rainfall level for the entire month is 1.02 inches.

“It looks like we got above an inch in most of the Northeast Heights and more than an inch near Tramway,” Frazier said. “On the West Side, we had one-half to three-quarters of an inch.”

He said at least another half-inch of rain was in play for the metro area through this morning.

Hail described as the size of “fat marbles” pummeled Las Cruces and other parts of southern New Mexico on Wednesday afternoon, the second time this month that the region has been hammered by hail. Earlier in October, golf-ball size hail caused wide-spread damage to rooftops and cars in the area.

Wednesday’s hail, which was accompanied by heavy rain, piled up like snow in parks and front yards.

Frazier said golf-ball sized hail pounded Melrose in Curry County in east-central New Mexico on Wednesday and there were reports of nickel-size hail in Socorro.

Heavy rains and flooding in Curry County also prompted that county’s road department to close sections of several county roads.

Ski Santa Fe got at least 4 inches of snow, the season’s first measurable snowfall after a warm autumn that kept the ski basin mountainsides cloaked in aspen gold through this past weekend.

Frazier said there also had been reports of snow at the higher elevations in the Sandia and Jemez mountains.

Chris Romero of the Natural Resources Conservation Service of New Mexico said Wednesday he did not expect snow accumulations from the storms late Tuesday through today to stick around.

“We are just a few degrees away from freezing at most points (in higher elevations),” Romero said during a drought monitoring workgroup session. “The lowest temperature so far has been 31 degrees. It’s still pretty warm during the day. We have been getting up into the 40s.”

Chuck Jones, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Albuquerque office, said that despite exceptionally dry spans in August and September, New Mexico’s rainfall totals for the calendar year are still 136 percent of normal.

“So we are still doing pretty good for the year,” Jones said.

Journal staff writers Lauren Villagran in Las Cruces and Mark Oswald in Santa Fe contributed to this report.


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