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Temperatures expected to be 10 to 15 degrees above normal

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FARMINGTON — The calendar may say late April, but the weather will feel more like early summer when most of New Mexico experiences several days of above-average temperatures to close out the month.

Brian Guyer, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said a strong high-pressure ridge is expected to arrive in the state this week, driving the mercury to record or near-record levels for a five-day period.

Farmington is expected to see highs in the low to middle 80s by April 29 and 30, while Albuquerque will be pushing 90 degrees. Further south, Roswell will be approaching 100 degrees, Guyer said.

The normal high temperature for late April in the Farmington area is approximately 70 degrees, he said, so this warming trend will result in temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above normal. The heat is expected to last through next weekend, at which point Guyer said another weather system is poised to roll through the area, bringing temperatures down.

The hot weather in the Farmington area will bring with it a halt to the strong wind the area has seen for the past several days. Guyer said the last day of strong winds in San Juan County was April 24.

The high temperatures will be accompanied by mostly clear conditions and low humidity, meaning the warmth won't linger overnight. Guyer said lows in the Farmington area are expected to be in the 40s.

The city could see record temperatures on a few of those days. Guyer said Farmington is expected to see highs of approximately 84 degrees on April 29 through May 1. The record high of 90 degrees on April 30 is probably out of reach, but the record high for April 29 and May 1 is 85 degrees, and that mark likely will be challenged, he said.

Snowpack may be diminished

That kind of warmth may be welcomed by local residents who are eager to get out and stretch their legs. But it serves as bad news for those keeping an eye on the snowpack. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture snowpack summary for the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins, the snowpack was in decent condition as of April 23, registering at 93 percent of normal and 88 percent of average.

But it has declined sharply since April 1, and Guyer said this week's warmth will accelerate that trend.

"The snowpack has really taken a hit in the last three to five weeks," he said. "Conditions are below normal now. These warmer temperatures with drying conditions will really have an impact."

Guyer said the rapid warm-up and dry air could lead to substantial sublimation, a phenomenon that leads to snow being converted to vapor without turning to water first. And he said much of the snowpack that does melt into water will have a hard time making it into streams and rivers anyway.

"Unfortunately, a lot of the snowmelt will primarily be charging the soil moisture," he said, noting conditions this spring will be markedly different from last year, when a series of late-season snow storms led to a bountiful runoff.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com.

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