The Four Corners will likely see monsoon moisture, cooler temperatures this week

Lower daytime temperatures also expected next several days

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
  • The chance of rain varies from between 30% and 50% each day from July 21 to July 25 in Farmington.
  • A high of 80 degrees is forecast for the Farmington area on July 21.
  • Farmington is 1.02 inches below its normal total of 3.04 inches of precipitation for the year.

FARMINGTON — While monsoon rainfall in the Four Corners has been of a hit-or-miss nature so far this season, most of San Juan County will see a good chance of precipitation in the week ahead.

Randall Hergert, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said the moisture outlook for the next several days is very encouraging.

"We are in the monsoon season," he said. "We are finally getting a nice plume of moisture coming up from Mexico."

Hergert said storms will begin to form over high terrain on July 21 and continue to build July 21 through July 23, moving out over lower-elevation areas.

"The peak of activity will be toward the end of the week for the Four Corners area," he said, explaining that a plume of moisture is making its way toward northwest New Mexico and eastern Arizona.

Rain forms a puddle during a storm in July 2012 in Farmington. Monsoon season generally runs from mid-June through September, according to the National Weather Service.

According to the NWS forecast, the weather is expected to be hot and dry through July 21 before a change arrives at midweek. Between July 21 and July 25, the chance of rain varies from between 30% and 50% each day.

Additionally, temperatures are expected to plummet. Highs in the 90s are expected early in the week, but a high of 80 degrees is forecast for the Farmington area on July 22. Peak temperatures for the rest of the week are forecast to be in the middle 80s, bringing relief to an area that has been baking in the middle or high 90s for most of the past several weeks.

"That's a good sign we're seeing monsoon moisture," Hergert said of the cooling trend. "If you see daytime highs turn lower, that's a good sign."

Parts of San Juan County already have seen monsoon rainfall. Hergert said an NWS observer 5 miles east of Aztec reported 1.35 inches of rain last week, while others in the area reported totals of approximately 0.75 inches.

That relative wealth of moisture was not spread around, however. Hergert said the Four Corners Regional Airport reported only 0.10 inches of precipitation for the week.

"That's the hit-and-miss nature of the storms," he said. "One place might get 1 to 2 inches, and another place might get nothing. But that usually averages out over seven to 10 days."

That 1/10th of an inch at the airport is the only moisture Farmington has received for July. Hergert said the normal total for the month is 0.78 inches. But he noted the city has a good chance of making up that deficit this week.

"It's not a great start to the month, but the rainfall comes in bunches and waves, so this week looks like one of the best chances to get back to average for the month of July," he said.

Hergert also said that for the three-month period of June, July and August last year, Farmington received only 0.13 inches of precipitation. So even the paltry 0.10 inches the airport saw last week nearly matches that total from last year.

For the year to date, he said Farmington is 1.02 inches below its normal total of 3.04 inches. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, most of northwestern San Juan County is locked in extreme drought, the second-worst classification behind exceptional drought. Much of the rest of the county is in severe drought.

But San Juan County is not alone in experiencing abnormally dry conditions. A curtain of extreme drought extends across the state's northern-most counties, with pockets of extreme drought extending south to Lea, De Baca, Chaves and Eddy counties. Only the state's southwest corner, with a sliver extending up to western McKinley and San Juan counties, is free from drought, but even those areas are classified as experiencing abnormal dryness.

Fortunately, Hergert said most areas of the state could be in for some moisture this monsoon season. He said northwest Lincoln County near Ruidoso experienced some flash flooding last week, and the eastern plains were expected to receive locally heavy rains on July 20.

"That should shift more over the western half of the state this week and get those folks in the game," Hergert said.

As a whole, the monsoon season in New Mexico is shaping up almost exactly the way forecasters predicted it would, he said — close to normal.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or Support local journalism with a digital subscription.