Moisture, high winds, cold temps headed to San Juan County this weekend

Storms could dump 1 to 2 feet of snow on San Juans

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
After an early-season snowstorm hit the Farmington area on Oct. 26, the region could be in for another dose of winter-type weather this weekend, with precipitation, high winds and colder temperatures expected.
  • Two rounds of precipitation are expected in San Juan County this weekend.
  • Neither system is expected to provide the area much relief from the drought.
  • Another round of moisture could be headed this way by Nov. 13.

FARMINGTON — It isn't likely to be the kind of storm that makes a sizable dent in San Juan County's drought, but two waves of inclement weather are headed this way over the next few days, and both are showing strong signs of leaving behind some moisture.

Annette Mokry, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said the Farmington area was expected to see an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the day on Nov. 7 from the first round, then a second round on Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 that would be accompanied by colder weather.

"So there's a potential for some rain and snow showers," she said. "If there is any accumulation in terms of snow, it would be most likely Sunday and Monday."

The first system wasn't expected to result in a large temperature decrease, but it was expected to be notable for its winds. Mokry said winds throughout the day on Nov. 7 were expected to gust from the southeast, but by later in the day, they likely would be coming from the south or southwest and grow stronger.

Snow clings to trees adjacent to Broadway Avenue in Farmington on Oct. 26, 2020. San Juan County is expected to receive more precipitation over the next few days, but the moisture won't be enough to make much of a dent in the drought.

"It's not very typical for winds to increase in the nighttime hours, but the winds will increase overnight to 20 or 30 miles per hour with gusts around 40," she said. "They'll be tapering off on Sunday."

By the time the second system moves through the Four Corners area later on Nov. 8 or early on Nov. 9, those winds will have decreased, she said.

Mokry said the first system could leave behind anywhere from a few one-hundredths of an inch of precipitation to a quarter-inch, and she expected those amounts to vary across the county. The moisture from the second system is expected to leave behind another quarter-inch or so.

While any moisture would be welcome for the county, totals like that won't do much to change drought conditions.

"No, not flooding-type amounts or anything that will saturate the soil," Mokry said of what is anticipated this weekend. "But, certainly, it will help, since you guys have been so dry."

Perhaps the best news about the two systems is their potential impact on regional snowpack. Mokry said precipitation totals are expected to be considerably higher in southwest Colorado than they are in San Juan County, especially in the higher-elevation areas.

"I think they're likely to get a whole lot more snow," she said.

The NWS had issued a winter storm watch for the evening of Nov. 6 through late Nov. 9 for southwest Colorado, and the southwest San Juan Mountains were expected to receive 1 to 2 feet of snow, she said. The highest-elevation areas could see more than that, Mokry said.

"The big thing is going to be wind," she said. "There are going to be winds gusting 60 to 70 miles an hour over the peaks. So anybody from the Farmington area going into Colorado should be aware they might run into some difficult weather."

A horse sculpture outside the Farmington Public Library is blanketed in snow on Oct. 26, 2020.

Mokry said those winds were expected to peak overnight between Nov. 7 and Nov. 8.

Most of the eastern half of San Juan County is locked in exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is the driest category. The rest of the county remains in extreme drought, the second-worst classification.

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

As of Nov. 6, the Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington had received only 2.88 inches of precipitation for the year — a far cry from the 9.61 inches normally recorded by that date, according to figures provided by Mokry. The airport normally receives 11.03 inches for the entire year, so chances are high 2020 will go down as another abnormally dry year locally.

"You'd need a whole bunch of storms to get close to normal," she said.

Nevertheless, this weekend's storm will be the second time in approximately two weeks that San Juan County will have seen some moisture — an encouraging sign, giving the fact that a La Nina has set up in the Pacific Ocean, a development that normally results in a comparatively warm, dry winter for the American Southwest.

"It looks like the extreme ridge of high pressure that's ruled New Mexico since the summer and into September and October is not quite as dominant or, at least, may not be as dominant for the next seven to 10 days," Mokry said. "So we'll see a disturbance come through over the next week and a half, so that's a good thing."

The 10-day trend for San Juan County is to see temperatures much closer to normal for this time of year, instead of the near 70-degree temperatures that were recorded over the last week.

"There will also be chances for not huge amounts of precipitation, but at least a little bit," she said, adding that after this weekend's storm tapers off on Tuesday, another round of moisture could arrive by Nov. 13.

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