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2016 monsoon ready to rumble

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Go ahead and start loading up the car for that weekend camping trip. Dust off the grill and buy those hot dog and hamburger buns. The Fourth of July on Monday is shaping up to be a sun-spangled day.

There will be rain in some mountain areas Wednesday, showers everywhere in New Mexico except the southeastern plains Thursday, and downpours Friday, setting the stage for a monsoon season that promises to be about average.

The moisture will start to taper off as we move into the weekend.

“Thursday and Friday are looking downright wet for most areas,” said Andy Church, meteorologist with the Albuquerque office of the National Weather Service. “Friday looks like the wettest day, almost soggy. But on Saturday, we start a drying trend with just some scattered showers. The Fourth of July is looking pretty good right now, a very nice day, which is good news for those who want to be outdoors.”

High temperatures today through Independence Day are forecast to be in the low 90s.

Kerry Jones, also a meteorologist with the Weather Service’s Albuquerque office, said that just about every place in the state, with the exception of the Four Corners area in the northwest and the southeastern corner, has had measurable rainfall over the past week.

“Of course, measurable rainfall is 0.01 inches,” Jones said.

Drought conditions in New MexicoEven so, above-normal rainfall throughout the state in April and above-normal precipitation and locally heavy thunderstorms in significant parts of the state in May and June have continued to roll back drought in New Mexico.

According to information released last week by the New Mexico Drought Monitoring Workgroup, made up of representatives of the weather service and state and federal agencies, only about 16 percent of the state is in moderate drought. That’s down from 43 percent in early April and 37 percent late last month. More than 77 percent of the state is now listed as abnormally dry.

Moderate drought is restricted to a western slice of New Mexico from Gallup to the bottom of the Bootheel.

Albuquerque is getting more rain than is reflected in the official numbers measured at the Albuquerque airport. According to the airport numbers for this month, Albuquerque had received just 0.16 inch of rain through Sunday, considerably shy of the 0.53 inch that is the average for that period. Official airport numbers also show Albuquerque has just 1.35 inches of rain for the year, less than half of the 3.07 inches that is normal by this time of year.

But Church said the official numbers can be misleading.

“The airport has just gotten missed,” he said. “Other areas are getting rain. The Albuquerque Sunport, not so much.”

On Sunday alone, for example, some sections of Albuquerque got more rain than the metro area’s official reading for all of this month. Constitution and Chelwood Park NE got 0.56 inch of rain Sunday, Indian School and Tramway got 0.32 inch and Candelaria and Camino de la Sierra got 0.17 inch.

Over the past week, Ruidoso soaked up 2.28 inches of rain, Tijeras 1.70, Las Vegas 1.55, Clayton, 1.20 and Sandia Park 1.00.

Church said the state’s monsoon season, which technically started on June 15, is shaping up to be near average or slightly above average.

“Technically the monsoon season (in the desert Southwest) is June 15 to Sept. 30,” Church said. “But for Albuquerque and the Middle Rio Grande Valley, it usually starts the first week in July.”

Average rainfall in the Albuquerque area from July 1 to Sept. 30 is about 3.80 inches. During an above-average monsoon season, Albuquerque could get as much as 6 inches. Of course, that’s at the airport. It could be wetter in other parts of Albuquerque.

Or not.

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