Rain brings some relief to San Juan County, other parts of New Mexico
Southern, eastern NM saw lion's share of moisture on June 28
- The Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington reported four-tenths of an inch of rain on June 28.
- An area north of Roswell received 3.35 inches and locations throughout Roswell itself drew 2 to 2.5 inches.
- Reports from the Clovis area ranged from 1 to 1.5 inches.
FARMINGTON — It may not have been the thorough soaking many folks were hoping for, but parts of San Juan County saw substantial moisture for the first time since winter on June 28 as a monsoon storm brought some much-needed rain to the area.
Meteorologist Randall Hergert of the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque said his agency received reports of rainfall from Farmington and Aztec ranging from three-tenths of an inch to a half inch. The Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington reported four-tenths of an inch, he said.
Other parts of the state fared much better. Hergert said the big winner was Chaves County, where an area north of Roswell received 3.35 inches and locations throughout Roswell itself drew 2 to 2.5 inches. Reports from the Clovis area ranged from 1 to 1.5 inches, while rainfall in the Albuquerque area varied from one-tenth of an inch to half an inch.
"Much of the moisture flowing into the state has gone to the southern and eastern parts of the state. That rain has been slow and persistent, so we haven't seen the heavier rainfalls yet," Hergert said on the morning of June 29, though he added locally heavy downpours were still possible.
The weather service had a flash flood watch in place for much of southern New Mexico on June 29 and issued a flood warning for parts of Eddy County just south of Chaves County. According to the weather service, the Pecos River near Roswell was expected to rise to minor flood stage by the night of June 29 with additional rainfall of 1 to 4 inches expected.
Hergert said precipitation chances throughout the state were expected to peak at that point. Additional moisture is possible June 30 through July 2, he said, but chances will decline each day.
The best chances for more rain in San Juan County were expected to come on the afternoon of June 29 and throughout the day on June 30, but those odds were expected to wane as the week continued, he said.
"If any part of the state is going to miss out on more precipitation, it's going to be Farmington and the San Juan County area," he said.
Still, the June 28 storm brought some welcome relief to the parched county, most of which remains locked in exceptional drought, the driest category in the U.S. Drought Monitor's five-tier system for measuring drought. The storm also ushered in much-cooler-than-normal temperatures, with Farmington reaching a high temperature of only 84 degrees on June 28 — well below its normal high on that date of 93 degrees.
The trend continued on June 29, with Hergert noting that Farmington was expected to reach a high of only 77 degrees on June 29 — 16 degrees below normal.
That phenomenon was being repeated across the state, he said, where the moisture and cloud cover allowed several communities to set record low high temperatures.
That stands in sharp contrast to the heat wave that has enveloped the Pacific Northwest, he noted, causing locations in that normally temperate region to experience temperatures of more than 110 degrees this week.
"Seattle has become Albuquerque, and Albuquerque has become Seattle," Hergert said.
While the monsoon typically doesn't become established in northern New Mexico until just after the Fourth of July, Hergert said this system gives every indication of following that seasonal storm pattern.
"We have our high-pressure system off to the east and a good moisture flow moving northward into New Mexico from Mexico," he said, describing the conditions that led to this round of precipitation. "You can say this is a classic monsoon pattern. While it's not the strongest, it's a good first monsoon burst of the season."
That doesn't mean the monsoon is here to stay, he cautioned.
"Monsoon season comes in ebbs and flows," he said. "It's a good start, but it's not going to last all season."
That high-pressure system that generally wards off precipitation is expected to move back toward New Mexico over the next several days, although Hergert said it wasn't expected to scour all the storm clouds from the region, with some of them remaining under the high-pressure dome.
"We could see some daily rounds of precipitation going forward over the next several days," he said.
Hergert said additional moisture across the state this week — especially if it falls in a slow, persistent fashion, rather than all at once — would help ease the drought's hold on New Mexico.
"Hopefully, this does pan out, and we could see some substantial improvements to our drought conditions," he said.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.