Storms bring moisture, but more precipitation is needed

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Michelle Porter pushes Kinsley Martinez, 1, in a stroller while walking with Ashley Zelvis on Monday in Aztec's Riverside Park.

FARMINGTON — The recent storms brought several inches of snow to the Four Corners area, but the U.S. Drought Monitor cautions that an extreme deficit of precipitation last year means the Four Corners needs more storms to help lift the region out of its most severe drought category.

“Any snow, any moisture is a positive,” said San Juan Water Commission Executive Director Aaron Chavez when reached by phone Monday.

Chavez said the area remains in exceptional drought. He said more storms would help the region.

“The more snowpack we have, the better off we are for the summer,” Chavez said.

The melting snow in the mountains feeds the Animas and San Juan rivers.

The Animas River flows Monday through Riverside Park in Aztec at much higher levels that were seen earlier this year.

In a Mayor's Table video released today by the city of Farmington, Mayor Nate Duckett and City Manager Rob Mayes described drought as one of the major issues the city faced in 2018 that will continue to be a challenge in 2019.

“We're still, believe it or not, in the highest level of drought that (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has,” Mayes said in the video.

He said there is still a water shortage and Farmington is continuing to ask its residents to conserve. Farmington and Aztec are both in stage one of their water shortage plans, which means both cities are asking residents to voluntarily cut back on usage.

“The snowpack, though, is looking great and we're certainly hoping to see a great spring runoff,” he said.

Dan Skinner and his 11-year-old son, Kaleb, fish on the Animas River Monday at Riverside Park in Aztec.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation reports snowpack in the Animas River Basin in Colorado is about 76 percent of its median snowpack over a period of 30 years. The San Juan River Basin in Colorado and New Mexico has about 69 percent of its median snowpack. The snowpack maps were last updated Saturday.

Chavez said the water commission is continuing to monitor snowpack and snow-water equivalent in the mountains as well as temperature and the possibility of an El Niño weather pattern developing.

Ice covers a pond Monday in Riverside Park in Aztec.

While an El Niño weather pattern has not yet developed, the sea surface temperature in the Pacific Ocean is above average. Chavez said that could signal an El Niño may develop in the future.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center currently has an El Niño watch in effect. The Climate Prediction Center anticipates El Niño conditions will likely develop this winter. If those conditions do develop, it could mean increased precipitation.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at