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A dry, warm fall predicted as drought persists despite wet NM summer

Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0
A rainstorm hovers over Eastern New Mexico during the 2011 monsoon season.

While much of New Mexico has seen a sizable monsoon season, which may continue through the end of the month, drought experts say it hasn’t made a huge impact. And it’s expected to dry up and warm up through the fall and winter.

At a briefing Tuesday, climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center Curtis Reganti reviewed data that showed strong precipitation numbers over the last month across much of New Mexico. However, he said the snowpack levels have been near or below normal since April.

“More widespread dry conditions are showing up once you include the very dry winter conditions,” he said.

And when you look at areas that haven’t had a lot of summer rain — like east-central and southeast New Mexico — you’re seeing extreme and even exceptional drought.

And when you zoom out to look at the numbers over the last two years? “Despite the active monsoon this year,” Reganti said, “that’s still —in many areas — a drop in the bucket right now.”

Reganti said the data points to August finishing strong with chances for more rain than usual, but the outlook sours some for the fall.

“We’re leaning toward above normal temperatures and, unfortunately, below-normal precipitation,” he said. “Excluding western New Mexico.”

That’s because the west may see more rain than other areas through October.

He said, while it’s a fairly long-range outlook, the prediction of drier and warmer conditions across much of the state holds true through February.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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