Storm drops much-needed moisture on San Juan County; more could be coming next week
National Weather Service: La Niña may be setting up for winter
FARMINGTON — Just in time for one of the busier event weekends in recent memory in San Juan County, a storm system that entered the area on Sept. 29 is due to exit the Four Corners, leaving behind mostly clear skies and warmer temperatures.
That's good news for organizers of the Road Apple Rally, Chile in October-fest and the Aztec Highland Games and Celtic Music Festival. But even better news is that the storm system that settled over San Juan County Sept. 29-30 left behind significant moisture as monsoon season officially came to an end Oct. 1.
Jennifer Shoemake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said the Farmington-Bloomfield area received anywhere from 0.6 inches to 1 inch of rain over the 48-hour period. Locations throughout the Jemez Mountains saw 1 to 2 inches of rain, while the Albuquerque metropolitan area received anywhere from one-third of an inch to three-quarters of an inch.
Shoemake said there were even reports of snow in the higher elevations, with one location in Colfax County reporting 2.7 inches of powder.
The storm may not have been a classic monsoon system, but the moisture it produced will be counted as monsoon rain, since it fell in September. That gave this year's monsoon season — already a very productive one compared to most recent years — a nice, late-season boost.
"It did, absolutely," Shoemake said. "We certainly needed the moisture, with much of the state still in drought. It should also quiet down any secondary fire season, so it was good in a lot of different ways."
The storm brought the year-to-date total at the Four Corners Regional Airport to 5.01 inches of precipitation. That is only slightly behind the normal year-to-date sum of 5.74 inches.
Shoemake said warmer, drier weather should prevail in San Juan County through Tuesday, but then another system is due to move into the area that night. She described it as a quick-hitting system, but she said the county stands a better chance of receiving some precipitation from it than anywhere else in New Mexico.
The rest of October is shaping up as an either-or proposition, she said, with equal chances for above- or below-normal precipitation and temperatures.
The long-term outlook is less rosy, with projections calling for a drier-than-normal winter across the Southwest.
"It does look like a La Niña is setting up for the winter," she said.
Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with a digital subscription.