Weather Service Report

AXUS75 KABQ 161931

1231 PM MDT FRI FEB 16 2018



Overall, dry conditions have continued over New Mexico since mid-
January. Several weak weather systems moved through the region, but 
most produced little or no significant precipitation over the 
region. Two weather systems February 9-16 produced reasonably 
widespread precipitation totals mainly west of the Central 
Mountains. Although these systems provided some much needed 
precipitation, overall deficits (especially in the Northern 
Mountains) remain high enough to see the introduction of D3 or 
Extreme Drought into portions of the Northern Mountains.

Over the last 30 days, most of the state has remained dry with 
widespread precipitation totals of 25% or less. Some regions 
(predominately the central Rio Grande Valley) are currently showing 
30 day values of 100-300 percent of normal. This is due to the 
weather system that moved through the state February 14-15  which 
produced widespread rainfall totals of 0.40-0.60 with some reports 
of over 1.00. This single precipitation event skews the percent of 
normal calculations as the normal precipitation for the 30-day 
period is approximately in the same range as the total precipitation 
for the event. 

Examining the 60 and 90 Day totals, a more cohesive pattern emerges 
with most of the Land of Enchantment seeing precipitation departures 
of less than 25% with many locations east of the Central Mountains 
in the 10% or less range. As of February 14, some observing stations 
in the Eastern Plains have not had measurable precipitation since 

Corresponding to the low precipitation totals, current snowpack 
values across the region are exceptionally low. As of February 17, 
all basins within New Mexico are below 40% of average. The Rio Chama 
basin is currently the highest with 38% of the average, with the 
lowest values in the Mimbres Basin at 6% of normal. In Colorado, the 
headwaters of the Rio Grande, Animas, and San Juan rivers are 
doing better due to the recent systems with basin values of 47%, 49%, 
and 50% of normal respectively. 

The US Drought Monitor is a multi-agency, national analysis of 
drought conditions that is produced weekly by the National Drought 
Mitigation Center. The Drought Monitor is coordinated with over 400 
local experts nationwide on local conditions to provide an accurate 
analysis of conditions on a local and state level. The Drought 
Monitor is released weekly on Thursday morning using data through 
early Tuesday morning.

Looking at the Drought Monitor map for New Mexico as of Thursday, 
February 15 2018, most of New Mexico is in D2, or Severe Drought. 
D3, or Severe Drought, was introduced this week in portions of the 
Tusas/San Juan and Sangre de Cristo Mountains due to the low snowpack 
values. D3 also is present in a small portion of Catron County. D1, 
or Moderate Drought, remains present over the southern tier of the 
state. A very small area of D0 (Abnormally Dry) remains over southern
Otero County. 

For more information on the US Drought Monitor or to see the current 
version, please go to:


Currently, the primary impacts reported from the drought are in the 
agricultural and winter recreation sectors. Reports from the USDA 
National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) indicate that there 
has been deterioration in the winter wheat conditions in the Eastern 
Plains. Further data from the NASS indicate that supplemental feeding
 of livestock was increasing in some areas where natural feed was 
becoming short.

Winter recreation is being severely impacted in New Mexico due to 
the lack of snow. Recent snowfall totals have helped in some areas, 
but as of February 16, at least two resorts are closed with one 
reporting weekend openings only.

With respect to fire bans, four fire bans are known to be in effect 
in New Mexico. The Villages of Angel Fire and Ruidoso along with 
Mora and Colfax Counties have announced burn bans. Several New 
Mexico State Parks have announced fire restrictions. At this time no 
other restrictions are known. Please check with local, State, or 
Federal agencies for current burn restrictions. 

Below are some potential sources of information on current fire 
aviation/ regional-info/new-mexico/fire-restrictions

At this time, there are no known water restrictions due to the 
recent dry conditions.


The current climate pattern is representative of La Nina, which is 
present in the equatorial Pacific. Equatorial sea surface 
temperatures (SSTs) are below normal with the most current Oceanic 
Nino Index (ONI) value of -1.0C for November-January.

The ONI is a three month running average of the SST anomalies in the 
Nino 3.4 region of the Pacific Ocean and is used to categorize if El 
Nino or La Nina conditions exist. The NWS/Climate Prediction Center 
uses an operational definition for El Nino or La Nina which looks at 
the ONI along with consistent atmospheric conditions. Additionally, 
these conditions must be expected to continue for at least the next 
three consecutive months. Current models indicated that 
conditions are likely to continue through the remainder of the 
winter with SSTs returning to a neutral condition by Spring 2018.

Further information on El Nino and La Nina can be found below:

The current seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks were 
issued by the NWS/Climate Prediction Center on February 15. The 
March 2018 outlook for most of New Mexico indicates a trend to 
normal to above normal temperatures with most of the southern two-
thirds of New Mexico expected to see normal to below normal 
precipitation values. Conditions for March along the northern third 
of the state are a bit more mixed with equal chances of above, 
normal, or below normal temperatures and precipitation for most of 
the region with the Four Corners likely to see normal to above 
normal temperatures.

Looking out further for the March through May time period, the 
outlook is reasonably similar with NM and the Southern Rockies 
expecting normal to above normal temperatures with normal to below 
normal precipitation. 

Finally, the seasonal drought outlook for the same time period 
indicates that drought is expected to persist over the remainder 
of the region.


As of February 1, little change has occurred in reservoir storage 
with many reservoirs in New Mexico at or above average storage 
levels, especially on the Pecos and San Juan Rivers. Navajo Reservoir 
on the San Juan River benefited from the above normal runoff in 2017. 
The Pecos River reservoirs, which had a below normal 2017 runoff, 
are seeing above average storage numbers due to the heavy rains late 
in the monsoon season. Rio Grande reservoirs are showing below 
average numbers* with upper basin reservoirs running at 
approximately 75% of the 30-year average. Downstream, the Elephant 
Butte Reservoir level is approximately 33% of average. Other 
reservoirs through the state show varying trends with Conchas Lake 
slightly above average while Eagle Nest is about 80% of the longer 
term average.

28-Day average streamflow values show patterns consistent with the 
2017 runoff and monsoon but are continuing to deteriorate due to the 
ongoing above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. In 
general, most natural flowing basins east of the Central Mountain 
Chain are showing above normal streamflow for the period as late 
monsoon season rainfall helped to recharge soil moisture. The 
prolonged dry period with above normal temperatures has continued to 
deplete the moisture from the upper levels of the soil column, which 
is still evident in some natural flowing basins in the far Eastern 
Plains (such as Revuelto Creek). West of the Central Mountain Chain, 
streamflow values for natural basins are representative as well of 
the 2017 runoff and monsoon season with many locations reporting 28-
day streamflow values of less than 5% of normal. 

Due to the low snow totals throughout Southern Rockies and New 
Mexico, current runoff outlooks for the 2018 runoff season are 
remaining low. Below is a table of selected locations and the 
current most probable (50th percentile) runoff forecast:

River                                     Percent   Period
Rio Grande River at Otowi Bridge            21%     Mar-Jul 2018
Pecos River at Santa Rosa Lake (Inflow)     11%     Mar-Jul 2018
Canadian River/Conchas Reservoir Inflow     11%     Mar-Jun 2018
San Juan River at Farmington                42%     Apr-Jul 2018 
Gila River near Gila                        26%     Feb-May 2018 
San Francisco River near Glenwood           32%     Feb-May 2018

*  Long term averages for reservoirs use data from the 1981-2010 
period. During this time, reservoirs along the Rio Grande had 
higher storage values due to a wetter period that impacted the 
first half of the 30 year period. Therefore, the 30-year average 
is statistically skewed to a higher value and may not be reflective
of reservoir storage trends for the previous 15 years.

This statement will be updated Friday, March 16, 2018 unless 
conditions warrant.

More frequent updates to the current drought situation can be found 
on the NWS Albuquerque YouTube channel at


Additional information on current or past drought conditions may
be found at the following web addresses: 

US Drought Monitor

NWS Precipitation Analysis Page

New Mexico Climate Center

Western Regional Climate Center

NWS/Climate Prediction Center

Additional hydrologic information:

NWS Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service

US Geological Survey- NM Water Science Center


The US Drought Monitor is a multi-agency effort involving 
NOAA/National Weather Service, the NOAA/National Center for 
Environmental Information, the US Department of Agriculture, 
State and Regional Climate Centers, and the National Drought 
Mitigation Center.


If you have any questions or comments about this drought 
information statement, please contact:

Royce Fontenot
Senior Service Hydrologist
National Weather Service
2341 Clark Carr Loop SE
Albuquerque NM 87106
505-244-9150 x228



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Western Regional Climate Center,