Early-season storm expected to leave behind 3 to 5 inches of snow in San Juan County

Temperatures expected to be near normal by weekend

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Snow blankets the lawn south of the Farmington Public Library on Oct. 26, 2020.
  • The snow was the first significant moisture most parts of San Juan County have received in weeks.
  • The precipitation began on Oct. 25 and is expected to continue through Oct. 27.
  • No other moisture is in the forecast for the area.

FARMINGTON — San Juan County got a pre-Halloween snow storm for the second year in a row. The snow started falling early on Oct. 26 and was expected to continue coming down on Oct. 27.

Kerry Jones, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said his office had received reports of up to 1 inch of snow in Farmington by around noon on Oct. 26.

The forecasts called for a total of 3 to 4 inches to fall in the city over the duration of the storm, and some parts of the county were expected to receive up to 5 inches. The area was under a winter weather advisory.

Jones said the upper-level system that dropped the snow was centered west of the Four Corners area on Oct. 26 but would move to the south and southeast by Oct. 27, meaning the Farmington area likely would see its precipitation end by noon.

Rain began falling late on Oct. 25, accompanied by strong winds, leading to reports of downed electric lines and power outages throughout the county. Temperatures plunged overnight from the weekend's balmy conditions to the middle twenties by Oct. 26.

Workers on the Complete Streets project endure snow and temperatures in the middle 20s on Oct. 26, 2020, in downtown Farmington.

Jones said overnight lows likely would be in the high teens, and even though a warming trend was expected to begin on the afternoon of Oct. 27, area highs were expected to be 20 degrees below normal. Highs near 50 degrees are expected by Oct. 28, and they should be approaching the normal of 60 degrees by Oct. 30, Jones said.

The snow was the first significant moisture most parts of San Juan County have received in weeks as a major drought continues. Jones noted that if the area does, indeed, wind up receiving 3 to 5 inches of snow from this storm, that would be an unusual result from a late-October storm.

But local residents need only look back one year to see a similar occurrence. Parts of the county received up to 1.5 inches of snow on Oct. 28 last year.

A horse sculpture on the lawn of the Farmington Public Library is surrounded by snow on Oct. 26, 2020.

Other parts of New Mexico were faring even better from this storm. Jones said Red River had reported 20 inches, and Los Alamos and Cuba both were reporting close to a foot. Several inches of snow had fallen in Grants by noon on Oct. 26, he said.

The heaviest snow seemed to be falling at the Continental Divide and just east of that, Jones said, adding that Taos and Raton also were seeing significant totals.

"The areas from the northern Sangre de Cristos southwest to the Jemez Mountains to Crownpoint — those areas have done quite well with snow," he said. "Those have been the biggest totals so far."

North of San Juan County, the storm was dropping a considerable amount of snow. The NWS was expecting 6 to 12 inches of snow to accumulate in the southern San Juan Mountains, with locally heavier totals possible. That moisture was expected to be accompanied by winds gusting to 45 mph, and the area was under a winter storm warning.

The storm does not appear to be a sign of things to come. Jones said there is little chance of additional precipitation in the forecast.

"No, unfortunately, especially for you folks," he said of the bone-dry Four Corners. "But I know this is much needed and much welcome."

Snow clings to a tree trunk on the north side of Broadway Avenue in downtown Farmington on Oct. 26, 2020.

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or measterling@daily-times.com. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.