Drought Information Statement
Issued by NWS Albuquerque, NM

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1231 PM MDT FRI FEB 16 2018



Predominately dry conditions have continued over New Mexico since
the middle of February. Several weather systems moved through the
Southwest, but most produced little or no significant precipitation
over the region. Some of these systems have brought healthy event
total precipitation values to portions of the state, but when put
into context the overall deficits since about October 10 2017 remain
large. With this consideration in mind, Extreme Drought has
continued to expand throughout New Mexico.

Over the last 30 days, most of the eastern half of the state and the
Four Corners region has remained dry with widespread precipitation
totals of 25% or less. Some regions (predominately the central Rio
Grande Valley and the Southwest Mountains) are currently showing
30 day values of 100-300 percent of normal. This is due to two wet
weather systems in mid-February and one in early March that produced
widespread 0.40"-0.70" totals with some locations reporting 2"-3"
totals. These few precipitation events skews the percent of
normal calculations as the normal precipitation for the 30-day
period is approximately in the same range (0.3"-0.5" as the total
precipitation for the event.

Examining the 60 and 90 Day totals, a more cohesive pattern emerges
with widespread precipitation departures of 15-45% with many
locations east of the Central Mountains or in the Four Corners in
the 20% or less range.

Corresponding to the low precipitation totals, current snowpack
values across the region are exceptionally low. As of March 16,
almost all basins within New Mexico are below 40% of average. The
Rio Chama basin is currently the highest with 43% of the average,
with the lowest values in the Mimbres Basin which has melted out.
Rapid decreases in snowpack values are evident in the Rio Hondo
basin due to melt out and sublimation. In Colorado, the headwaters
of the Rio Grande and the Animas/San Juan rivers are doing better
due to the recent systems with basin values of 52% and 51% of normal
respectively. Basins in New Mexico are for the most part nearing or
past their climatological peak for snowpack values, therefore these
values are likely to represent the peak values for the water year.

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,
March 15 2018, most of New Mexico is in D2, or Severe Drought.
D3, or Severe Drought, has expanded over the last month in portions
of the Four Corners as well as over most of northeastern New Mexico.
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 continued deterioration in the winter wheat conditions in
the Eastern Plains. Further data from the NASS indicate that
livestock issues are continuing as feed supplies from the 2017
production are dwindling and forage is limited due to the dry
conditions. NASS reports than many livestock producers are beginning
to reduce herd size due to concerns on the availability of feed.

Winter recreation is has been severely impacted in New Mexico due to
the lack of snow. Precipitation over the last 30-45 days has helped
to improve recreation conditions somewhat, but as of March 16 a
total of three recreation areas have closed.

Due to ongoing drought concerns, the Navajo Nation has issued an
emergency drought declaration.

Fire concerns have increased over the state due to the drought
conditions. Due to dry conditions and increased fuel loading, the US
Forest Service issued a Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory on March
7th that included eastern New Mexico. There have been several
wildfires in eastern New Mexico including the Stateline Fire in
Union County.

Fire bans have expanded with Mora, Lincoln, and Colfax counties
having burn bans in effect. Several municipalities also have bans or
restrictions in effect including the Villages of Angel Fire and
Ruidoso and the City of Albuquerque. Several New Mexico State Parks
have announced fire restrictions. 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 -0.9C for December-February. It is likely
that the current La Nina episode has peaked and SST`s will returning
to near normal.

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 to wain with SSTs returning to a
neutral condition by the end of 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 March 15. The
April 2018 outlook for most of New Mexico indicates normal to above
normal temperatures with most of New Mexico expected to see normal
to below normal precipitation values. Only extreme northeastern New
Mexico is posted as having an equal chance of above/below/normal
precipitation during April.

Looking out further for the April through June time period, the
outlook continues to show NM and the Southern Rockies with increased
likelihood of 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 March 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 37% 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 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 normal streamflow for the period
as late February through early March tend to be a climatological low
flow period. 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). The impacts of
the precipitation deficits are starting to be seen in the headwaters
of the Pecos River as well as portions of the Upper Canadian River
basin as these basins would normally begin to begin to see runoff
starting from melting snowpack. West of the Central Mountain Chain,
conditions continue to deteriorate over the northwestern third of
the state as the deficits in precipitation are starting to be
evident in the streamflow values of lower elevation snowmelt-driven
basins such as the Jemez River.

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            25%     Mar-Jul 2018
Pecos River at Santa Rosa Lake (Inflow)     11%     Mar-Jul 2018
Canadian River/Conchas Reservoir Inflow     14%     Mar-Jun 2018
San Juan River at Farmington                35%     Apr-Jul 2018
Gila River near Gila                        26%     Feb-May 2018
San Francisco River near Glenwood           22%     Mar-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 Monday, April 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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