Drought update: a bad 2011 for NM ranchers, not much hope in the forecast

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — As drought ate into rangeland grass, New Mexico’s ranchers ended 2011 with the lowest cattle inventory in 26 years, according to preliminary data presented today (Thurs. 1/19/12) at a state-federal drought meeting.

“When it gets dry, people have to get rid of their cattle,” said Les Owen of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

After the sixth driest year overall in state history, conditions improved with a good round of December storms and some moisture in southern New Mexico in January, according to Ed Polasko of the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office. But with a La Niña pattern in place in the Pacific Ocean still expected to push the storm track to our north, the latest forecasts call for odds favoring a dry late winter and spring:


More in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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