El Niño Visits New Mexico

From the January 2016 newsletter

el-nino.pngA warming trend in the Pacific has spawned a wet season for the Southwest, including New Mexico. Every one of the state’s river basins have an above-average snowpack, according to the initial water supply forecast by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Last year, the snowpack was well below 100 percent in most of New Mexico’s mountain ranges. December’s snowfall pushed precipitation totals for the month to 137 percent of the 30-year average. December marked the first time that New Mexico was reported as drought-free on the drought monitor map compiled by agencies that keep track of river flows, soil moisture and other data.

The snowpack in the Rio Grande Basin, which includes the western slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the eastern side of the Jemez Mountains, reached 134 percent of average. Last year, the snowpack at this time was 76 percent of average.

The Pecos River Basin snowpack, at 159 percent of average, is more than twice what it was last year at this time. The Rio Hondo basin was at 181 percent compared to 72 percent last year.