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FRI: It's a fine line as the summer rainy season brings relief and flooding, + More

In this handout photo from the New Mexico National Guard, members of the New Mexico National guard work on flooding damage Saturday, June 29, 2024, in Ruidoso, N.M. Thunderstorms are hopscotching around the Southwestern U.S., bringing much-needed moisture to a region where every drop counts.
Spc. Jose Montoya
/
New Mexico National Guard via AP
Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller vetoed a change passed by the city council that would alow anyone with the most votes to be elected to mayor and city council seats. Currently, candidates must get at least 50% of the vote to be elected.

It's a fine line as the summer rainy season brings relief, and flooding, to the southwestern US - By Susan Montoya Bryan Associated Press

It's as if the sky opened up and dropped everything it had in a matter of minutes. Giant raindrops combined with hail to transform an otherwise toasty summer day into a white wintry scene, at least for a few minutes.

Then it all turned to red mud.

That's how the monsoon rolls in the southwestern United States, with thunderstorms and rain clouds hopscotching around as they bring much-needed moisture to a region where every drop counts. It's the time of year when Arizona and New Mexico receive about half of their annual precipitation, from mid-June through September. Northern Mexico logs even more.

From church altars and farm houses to city halls, prayers, songs and even festivals are held in hopes of having a bountiful monsoon, enough to water crops and provide drinking water but not too much to turn roads into rivers and wash away homes where wildfires have reduced mountainsides to ash.

It can be a fine line.

Here are some things to know about the North American monsoon:

SEASONAL SHIFT

The recipe relies on the buildup of summer heat and shifting wind direction, which helps funnel moisture from the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of California and sometimes the Gulf of Mexico to areas where it's typically not found.

This means more showers and thunderstorms for the arid Southwest. Lightning, dust storms and strong winds also can be part of the mix.

The monsoon has ramped up a bit early this year, said Todd Shoemake, lead meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

"A lot of the moisture that has been in place has been very high, very abnormally high," he said. "And so that's led to a lot of very intense thunderstorms with very heavy rainfall."

Monsoons in other parts of the world often mean months of never-ending rain. Not so in northern Mexico and the American Southwest, where mornings often start with blue skies. Cumulus clouds begin billowing in the afternoon and within hours they let loose.

A monsoon features "bursts" and "breaks" depending on how much moisture is circulating and which way the wind blows.

BLESSING AND CURSE

This year's monsoon stranded travelers in a remote part of central New Mexico, leaving them in a thick soup of mud with little warning as a curtain of rain and lime-sized hail was unleashed.

In Moab, Utah, about a month's worth of rain fell in just 10 minutes. Water overflowed banks, bridges and sandstone cliffs. Homes were flooded and patrons at one tavern had to evacuate.

Heavy rain washed away important arteries linking communities in the Navajo Nation and first responders in New Mexico's largest city had a crush of calls for service as Albuquerque took on nearly 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) of water in less than 90 minutes, making many roads impassable.
 
In fire-ravaged parts of New Mexico, summer rains have become another threat. A black river of ash, soil and debris rushed down Ruidoso's main street, taking vehicles with it while homes and businesses flooded. It was the same in northern New Mexico, where numerous communities have yet to recover from the burn scars of a 2022 wildfire that was the largest in the state's recorded history.

But the monsoon also can be liquid gold for farmers and city water managers who are hopeful reservoirs can at least partially be replenished and river flows boosted. They are looking for any hedge against prolonged drought in a region that has seen increasingly erratic winter snowpacks and dwindling water supplies.

EBB AND FLOW

The 2021 monsoon was wet and the 2022 season got an early start. Right on cue, lots of moisture came in from the south and widespread rainfall was reported around the Southwest. That year ended as another above-average season.

But the following year was a dud, with some spots seeing only minimal precipitation. Many areas were grappling with severe and even extreme drought through the summer months.

This season might be packing quite the punch so far, but Shoemake said the monsoon appears to be growing more fickle.

"It has been a very mercurial monsoon pattern over the last five years," he said. "Ups and downs, ebbs and flows."

Forecasters are seeing more extreme events with climate change, he said, and the indicators they use to make long-term predictions are giving mixed signals.

"They aren't telling us the story that we used to see, you know, 10, 20, 30 years ago. So it's becoming a little bit more difficult to assess seasonal precipitation," Shoemake said.

Officials with the Arizona State Climate Office noted the wide swing in the amount of moisture seen by some communities during the start of the monsoon, anywhere from 200% to 800% of normal precipitation amounts.

"Not unusual for how things go for an Arizona monsoon," the office said.

A CLEAN SLATE

The North American monsoon can have considerable variability. But one thing is certain: The season evokes a special kind of anticipation among those who consider the Southwest home.

Every tease of the monsoon — the smell of rain, the darkening of the sky and the rumble of thunder in the distance — carries memories of rainy summer seasons past.

At Monument Valley on the border of Utah and Arizona, Shaye Holiday's family spends hundreds of dollars each summer fixing roads leading to their homes at the edge of the Navajo monument and within the park's picturesque valley. Their tour business also takes a hit when the road through the park is shut down due to flooding and erosion.

But for his father's orchard and his grandmother's garden, the rain is a blessing. And for him, going home during the rainy season offers a chance to recharge. He loves seeing the puddles dotting the desert landscape as he drives the route north from Kayenta, Arizona.

"It's just been uplifting and really pleasant to be back in Monument Valley, where Mother Nature is kind of wiping the slate clean," he said. "In a way, it's very refreshing.

Communities support Las Vegas in ongoing water crisisLas Vegas Optic, NPR News

Numerous communities around Northern New Mexico are supporting Las Vegas as it grapples with a water crisis brought on by flooding over a wildfire burn scar.

The Las Vegas Optic reports the cities of Santa Rosa and Santa Fe as well as Bernalillo County have shipped in water.

Española has been providing sandbags as summer monsoons promise more rain and tankers have also come from as far as Louisiana bringing water.

The New Mexico National Guard has been on hand to help with distributions. Las Vegas has been able to maintain its water supply and expand it slowly.

Mayor David Romero warned that even though the city is building up its current supply, another storm could put Las Vegas back where it was two weeks ago with no water.

The city’s water treatment plant was overwhelmed when flooding on the burn scar of the 2022 Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak Fire sent mudslides into the Gallinas River.

An official with the Federal Emergency Management Agency told NPR a new temporary filtration system should be up and running soon.
 
Fewer beds and smaller earnings will hurt New Mexico hospitals as new state law goes into effect - By Leah Romero, Source New Mexico

Smaller New Mexico hospitals will soon start missing out on government funding due to their fewer number of beds and smaller financial performance.

Senate Bill 17 signed into law earlier this year is set to go into effect this summer, redefining how the state calculates its portion of the Medicaid match for hospitals. The Healthcare Quality Delivery and Access Act establishes that 60% of the state’s match is based on “Medicaid service volume” or beds while 40% is based on performance, which is determined by the Health Care Authority based on reports from the hospitals.

“Ultimately, the bill aims to improve and increase access to healthcare services within the state. However, hospitals that do not have significant Medicaid service volume will not see much benefit,” reads a Legislative Finance Committee report.

According to the report, smaller hospitals with fewer beds care for fewer Medicaid patients, compared to bigger hospitals with a larger capacity to treat Medicaid patients.

“Given the structure of the act, hospitals most at risk of down-sizing may not see much benefit. Generally speaking, hospitals that are not fiscally-challenged will receive the bulk of the financial aid based on bed count,” the report reads. “Ultimately, the act does not target hospitals that are financially struggling, and instead helps larger hospitals which are generally already profitable.”

The LFC report uses Rehoboth McKinley Christian Hospital in Gallup as an example. The smaller hospital lost around $20 million in 2022 and will receive about $6.5 million from the new law.

Rehoboth has made headlines recently by being ordered to pay over $100 million in medical malpractice damages. The civil case was filed in 2019 following a patient’s botched hernia surgery left them with life-long complications.

“This will not cover the full extent of the losses that Rehoboth faces and they will still have a negative net margin of more than $13 million,” the LFC report reads.

On the other hand, the larger Eastern New Mexico Medical Center reported a profit of about $80 million in 2022 and will receive over $37 million from the law. The report said if the Roswell hospital’s earnings remain on track, it could see over $117 million in combined profits and matched funding from the state.

Twelve New Mexico hospitals which qualify for funding under the new law reported net losses in 2022. Four of them will not receive enough state match funding to turn a profit. These include Rehoboth, Presbyterian Hospital in Albuquerque, Santa Fe Medical Center, and Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Albuquerque.

In Southern New Mexico, Artesia General Hospital reported a nearly $3 million loss in 2022 and is only projected to receive $5.6 million in match funding. The hospital will be profitable at $2.7 million, which is low compared to other larger hospitals in the region.

The report also noted that public funds made up about 70% of total hospital revenue in 2022 and this number is projected to reach 74% by 2025. These include funding from Medicaid, Medicare, Medicare Advantage and state subsidies.

“As the state continues to increase hospital subsidies, New Mexico is in a unique position to ensure hospitals use their revenue to improve patients’ outcomes and access to healthcare,” the report reads.

During a Legislative Health & Human Services Committee meeting this week, Rep. Tara Lujan (D-Santa Fe) said the report raised several “red flags” for the lawmakers.

“We don’t always have all the answers when we come up with legislation. But I knew that we worked together with institutions, with legislators, with the executive office particularly on this bill,” Lujan said. “It looks like we need to make some adjustments.”

When asked by Rep. Pamelya Herndon (D-Albuquerque) about solutions the legislature should consider, LFC Analyst Allegra Hernandez said lawmakers need to make sure there are measures in place to hold hospitals accountable, and to improve care.

She added that the goal should be to make sure New Mexico hospitals are in a financially “healthier place” in five years, and that she does not believe Senate Bill 17, as it is currently written, will do that.

Hernandez offered one solution – the rural emergency hospital designation through Medicare. This designation was established through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 by Congress. The idea is that smaller, often rural hospitals would transition to become a rural emergency hospital and only offer emergency care to patients. This would limit access to broader services for patients seeking care.

“The rural emergency designation possible by (Medicare) is one potential answer, although it’s not necessarily the most popular answer as it would close hospital beds and only allow for emergency services,” Hernandez said.

Hospitals that choose to transition to this designation would receive another 5% in Medicare funds and a monthly facility payment of about $272,000. According to the LFC report, Guadalupe County Hospital is the only hospital in the state that has chosen to make this transition.

“The state and hospitals will likely need to continue to make difficult decisions about when it is necessary to close hospitals or sections of hospitals,” Hernandez said. “(The rural emergency designation) is an option, although, as I said, it is controversial,” Hernandez said.

Post-debate polling puts New Mexico in play for Trump if Dems stick with Biden -City Desk ABQ

A leaked poll from a Democratic-leaning firm, the first public poll data following President Joe Biden’s disappointing performance in last week’s presidential debate, shows Biden losing support in key battleground election states and even puts a few reliable Democratic voting states in play – including New Mexico.

The poll by Democratic firm OpenLabs — first reported Tuesday by the online politics outlet Puck News and later by Bloomberg News and others — shows Biden losing support among voters in the most contested states including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada.

But samples of voters in reliably Democratic New Mexico also registered declining support for Biden who polled even with Trump with 40% support in the state when a third-party candidate was included.

Still, 45% of Democratic voters sampled support the president staying in the race while 40% prefer he step aside for another candidate. For his part, Biden told supporters he has no plans to withdraw as the Democratic nominee.

Also on Tuesday, a new post-debate CNN poll found that 75% of voters think the Democrats would have a better chance of winning in November if another candidate was at the top of the ticket.

The leaked OpenLabs polling presentation did not include data indicating the number of voters polled in New Mexico, nationally or the margin of error for either group.

Cybersecurity breach could delay court proceedings across New Mexico, public defenders office says Associated Press 

What officials are calling a cybersecurity breach at New Mexico's statewide public defenders office could lead to delays in some court proceedings across the state, the department reported Wednesday.

The New Mexico Law Offices of the Public Defender said the breach began last Thursday. A timeline for restoration wasn't immediately clear.

New Mexico includes 13 district courts, 54 magistrate courts, 81 municipal courts, probate courts and additional specialty courts, according to the Judicial Branch of New Mexico website.

The statewide public defenders office, which provides legal representation to low-income people facing criminal charges, is the largest law firm in the state with 13 offices, more than 400 employees and contracts with about 100 private attorneys.

The department said the cybersecurity issue was preventing its employees from accessing some internal records while also delaying communications with clients, attorneys and the courts.

"Email has been a primary way to send discovery, motions, communication and negotiations with prosecutors," department spokesperson Maggie Shepard said. "All of that is now basically stopped."

Shepard said the extent of the breach wasn't yet known, although she said it did not immediately appear that the private information of clients and contracted lawyers had been compromised.

In the meantime, the department is communicating with New Mexico's courts and its clients in person, by phone or by fax, she said.

Mayor vetoes council’s proposal to eliminate threshold to win an election — Elizabeth McCall, City Desk ABQ

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller vetoed the City Council’s proposal to change the city’s voting system Tuesday — saying the measure would “remove a level of accountability our constituents deserve.”

At their last meeting, councilors on a 6-3 vote approved a proposal to put on the November ballot a measure to eliminate the threshold to win an election. This would replace the current majority voting system — which requires a candidate to receive 50% of the total vote to win — with a plurality voting system and eliminate run-off elections.

The council can override a veto with a majority — five — plus one vote, meaning if councilors vote the same way they did initially, they will have enough votes to override it.

In his statement, Keller said runoff elections are the norm for cities that have nonpartisan ballots and are required to produce a majority winner. He also said plurality voting would give an advantage to incumbent candidates.

“Current efforts nationwide to reform city elections are focused on promoting democracy and civic engagement, not anti-majoritarian policies like the current amendment, which would allow a minority of voters in the city to select our mayor, and a minority of voters in council districts to select city councilors,” Keller wrote.

Keller pointed out that in 2013, voters opted to change the then 40% threshold to the current 50%. He said that a mayor or councilor who could serve with 10% of the vote or less makes it challenging to be held accountable to voters and “with more support from voters, elected leaders have a clear mandate to govern.”

While Keller acknowledged that the proposal has received negative feedback — referring to public comments at council meetings and a letter from Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver — he said it “did not receive the appropriate public input and attention it warranted.”

Keller wrote that no election system is perfect, but this proposal “moves Albuquerque in the wrong direction.”

Albuquerque instills tribal consultation in development plans for culturally significant land - By Nash Jones, KUNM News

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller signed legislation Wednesday requiring tribal consultation on proposed developments on culturally significant land.

City Council Tammy Fiebelkorn sponsored the amendment to the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance, which the council passed unanimously last month.

It adds tribal nations and pueblos as “commenting agencies” on any proposed developments within 660 feet of Albuquerque Open Space or tribal land, according to the city.

The amendment is meant to ensure tribal leaders are able to give the city feedback on plans to develop land that “has significance to historic and ongoing cultural practices,” according to the city’s announcement.

Keller said in a statement that the legislation strengthens the city’s partnerships with tribes and sets “an example for the nation.”

Ahtza Chavez, executive director of Naeva, an organization that aims to build Native power and defend tribal sovereignty, says the organization has “worked tirelessly defending sacred sites from intrusive development.” She called the city’s move a “first step towards continuing to foster meaningful tribal engagement.”

Dark money group admits spending but denies disclosure requirement - By Marjorie Childress, New Mexico In Depth

A dark money group that spent thousands of dollars to influence New Mexico primary elections responded yesterday to a State Ethics Commission lawsuit seeking to compel them to publicly disclose their donors.

The response, filed in New Mexico’s federal district court, admits the group made independent expenditures advocating for particular candidates.

Independent expenditures in this sense are a specific kind of political spending defined in New Mexico’s Campaign Reporting Act – basically, advertisements that advocate for or against a candidate for electoral office. Such advertisements can be broadcast, run in newspapers or the internet, or mailed to people’s homes.

But the group denied it met the test under New Mexico disclosure laws for registering as a political committee or for otherwise disclosing political donors and spending on independent expenditures.

New Mexico’s campaign disclosure laws attempt to force disclosure by independent groups in several ways.

For groups formed primarily for making independent expenditures, it compels them to register as a political committee and disclose their donors and spending. The New Mexico Project’s response denied the commission’s claim they fit this category.

For groups who aren’t primarily engaged in politics, but who dabble enough to make a difference through independent expenditures, state law requires disclosure reports after a certain level of spending occurs. In its response, the group denied they met the necessary thresholds for disclosure under this provision.

Other than these denials, the response doesn’t offer details about the group’s primary purpose, or how much it has raised or spent.

The group also denied that its donors contributed to the group for the purpose of making independent expenditures – a key provision under New Mexico law that has become a loophole that at least one group exploited in years past to avoid disclosure of donors.

The group’s attorney, Blair Dunn, sent New Mexico In Depth the group’s response, which he said was filed yesterday. He answered questions briefly over email but has not responded to requests for an interview. In an email today, he said New Mexico In Depth’s analysis of its response to claims by the ethics commission is “not entirely correct, our answer is more nuanced than we simply admit to all of those facts as you can read from the answer, it is not accurate to simply summarize our answer as that.”

However, the group’s court filing begins by simply admitting or denying numbered allegations made by the ethics commission in its initial complaint.

New Mexico In Depth’s analysis of the group’s response is based directly on those admissions and denials, which speak to whether or not it meets the definition of a political committee, made independent expenditures, or otherwise meets reporting requirements.

DUE PROCESS QUESTION

The New Mexico Project’s response does include a lot more than simple denials or admissions of claims against it in the ethics commission lawsuit.

It alleges that the ethics committee is engaging in selective enforcement based on race and ideology; that it failed to provide due process; that it is violating the First Amendment rights of the NMP and its founder, Jeff Apodaca; and that it is engaged in a media smear campaign.

We asked Dunn for more detail, particularly about the due process claims, noting a May 15 letter the ethics commission sent the group seeking resolution, several weeks before the commission sued. He’s so far not responded to our interview request, or offered much detail.

Dunn did admonish New Mexico In Depth in an email to be more “balanced” in our reporting, but didn’t offer examples of how our reporting lacked balance. In a later email, he said the ethics commission’s lack of due process should be our focus rather than reporting requirements. (Reporting requirements are the focus of the ethics commission lawsuit.)

“In a rush to get this out ahead of the primary the SEC violated due process and included Jeff purely out of retaliation for speech,” Dunn wrote, “…a reporter worth their salt would worry first about that, before getting overly wound up over a disagreement about reporting requirements.”

“Due process” certainly sounds more serious than “reporting requirements.” And we want to hear more, having just learned of the due process concerns yesterday.

But don’t let the mundanity of state laws fool you. Reporting requirements are aimed at ensuring every one of us can make informed decisions at the ballot box.

We’re interested in the efforts of lawmakers over the years to bring more transparency to political spending and how effective our current transparency laws are.

This is why we focus on spending by groups who don’t disclose their donors, like the New Mexico Project, and other groups in years past.

It’s why we’ve also noted this year that another group, Equality New Mexico, spent tens of thousands on political advertising but didn’t disclose its donors. The group shielded that information by claiming all its political donations were under $200, which are exempt from disclosure under state law. Is the group still spending dark money? Yes.

Flash floods poised to continue in disaster areas through monsoon season - By Danielle Prokop,Source New Mexico

It’s the way of rain in the high desert: sometimes too little, and then a lot all at once.

With more rain expected this week, and an uncertain monsoon season ahead, flash floods threaten lives and homes in the still-burning South Fork and Salt Fires, but also in the burn scars of the 2022 Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon fires.

But human burning of fossil fuels creates hotter conditions that both speed up the drying out of the land, but also supercharge rainstorms that do build up.

“While we may get fewer storms, storms are getting more intense when they do hit,” said Andrew Mangham, a hydrologist at the Albuquerque office of the National Weather Service.

New Mexico has seen near-historic levels of moisture in the atmosphere for June.

“With climate change, with the warming of the atmosphere, and the warming of the oceans, we’re getting into a situation where the storms are capable of producing much heavier rainfall than we’ve seen in the past, simply because there’s much more water in the atmosphere,” Mangham said.

Weather experts and local officials have their eyes to the skies, urging people to heed warnings about flooding and dangerous debris flows in the coming weeks and months.

BRACING FOR MORE FLOODING

Officials said that first responders pulled more than 100 people from floodwaters in and around Ruidoso, which is experiencing dramatic flooding and debris flows after rains pounded the areas burned by the South Fork and Salt fires.

Ruidoso Mayor Lynn Crawford opened a Tuesday community meeting by thanking rescue crews and warned the area was continued “ground zero” for fire and flooding impacts.

“We had a lot of folks that were pulled out of the water by our local responders and swift-water teams. It was just a miracle that we didn’t have a loss of life and no serious injuries,” Crawford said.

Major General Miguel Aguilar, who leads both the New Mexico National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, pledged the state’s resources during the recovery, at Tuesday’s meeting.

“It’s gonna be a long road, we know that. We’re not going to measure in days, unfortunately, it’ll be years before we’re completely done,” said Aguilar.

Aguilar warned that floodwaters are unpredictable after a fire.

“As many of you witnessed on Saturday and Sunday, that was a lot of water coming down off the mountain at a very, very high rate of velocity that almost no amount of obstacles can really stop,” he said.

During the webinar, people asked what flood mitigation is currently in place in Ruidoso.

Crawford responded that the city has purchased barriers to mitigate landslides and flooding, and is coordinating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on an engineering plan to see if ponds can be built.

“There will be flooding,” he said.”There’s a really real possibility of a landslide in the Upper Canyon area.”

CONCERNS ON UPPER CANYON NEIGHBORHOODS:

The city on Tuesday reopened access to Upper Canyon, an area hit hard by both fire and flood, Crawford said the area may face further closures depending on flooding risk during the week.

“If there’s rain, we’re gonna ask people to go ahead and leave the area,” he said.

He further urged people not to stay up there if they go to check on their property, reminding people that a boil water advisory is still in place.“It’s not safe to spend the night up there,” he said. “If we have rain events, there’s an issue with landslides and really severe flooding.”

‘YOU CAN’T STOP THE WATER’

Ruidoso isn’t the only place getting pummeled by floods. Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are still relying on alternate water sources, as their municipal system was overwhelmed by the flooding, as debris and more soils run into the water during heavy rains.

Neighbors have been pooling resources to address flooding, ripping through arroyos, and scattering debris downstream.

Yolanda Cruz, who’s lived in Las Vegas for more than 30 years and moderates the community recovery page, noted that she was luckier than others, with only her driveway of the mountain road washing out.

But it’ll be a costly fix, and she’s still waiting on other payments from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“We still haven’t been paid by FEMA for the fires and we were affected by both the fires and flooding,” she said. “I don’t hold out much hope that it’s gonna be done quickly.”

Her parents, who are in their 70s, saw their backyard washed away into an arroyo.

“My nephew had a car on a trailer, and that ended up in the neighbor’s driveway,” she said. “And then my parents’ propane tank was three houses away.”

She said that living with the floods means adopting an emergency mindset – having a plan for when it rains, understanding how to use sandbags, and trying to be adaptable.

“You can’t stop water,” she said. “So the most you can do is try to, maybe, route it a certain way.”

MONSOON PREDICTION CHALLENGES

The unpredictability of monsoons, coupled with their chances of increasing ferocity, make any definitive statements about what will happen in the future difficult, said Mangham, the National Weather Service hydrologist.

The fast build-up of monsoons means that the best predictions for where rain will be, and how much might fall, only has a few day’s notice.

“The timescale is one to two days out,” he said. “That’s where we can say there’s a pretty good chance that in this town or this set of mountains, we’re gonna see some heavy rainfall. Once we get beyond day five, it becomes quite a bit more difficult for us.”

Instead of the non-soon of last year, where the seasonal rains failed to materialize, the die is loaded into seeing a monsoon season that could be somewhat drier than average compared to previous years.

But that tool is imprecise.

“The Sacramento mountains can get shellacked with three or four years worth of rainfall in one summer, and the whole state could still be below average,” Mangham said.

And the best estimate right now is that Ruidoso and the Sacramentos may see a wet monsoon.

Flooding occurred all over town as fierce rains pushed up floodwaters and carried ash, soils and sludge in powerful debris flows.

It was considered a storm that is seen every 350 to 400 years, said Mangnam, but with our changed climate, those powerful storms are happening more often.

“That’s definitely not the only one like that we’re going to get in the area,” he said.

Another factor for New Mexico’s rains is hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean. It got off to an explosive start with Hurricane Beryl, which is now rated as a Category 5 storm, and caused “Armageddon-like” damage in the Caribbean.

The storm is forecasted toenter into the Gulf of Mexico, a pattern that often feeds moisture into New Mexico.

“If we’re getting more and more hurricanes, stronger hurricanes come into the Gulf of Mexico, then I think that you have to say there’s an increased chance that we’re going to be pulling moisture and and getting some pretty heavy rainfall events, especially across the southern tier of New Mexico, where the Ruidoso burn scars are,” Mangham said.

There are efforts to try and get ahead of the flash floods.

Last week the U.S. Geological Survey, a federal agency which maintains measurements on rivers and streams, helped install monitoring equipment to give more warning when river levels rise.

The increased monitoring will continue through September, triggering weather officials when rains begin, and allowing more time to issue evacuation orders.