SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is seeing some late summer rainfall, but weather forecasters say it hasn’t been enough to make up for a year of drought.
August proved helpful for the Santa Fe area’s moisture deficit, but it also was one of the hottest months on record, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported (http://bit.ly/o9UyVS )
And meteorologist Kerry Jones told the newspaper that Santa Fe is still more than 3 inches behind the average precipitation for the year.
Jones said this is the season when tropical storms come off of Baja California and sometimes create moisture-bearing troughs over the West Coast. Sometimes New Mexico lucks out and gets rain out of those storms in September and October.
Without substantial moisture from such storms, Jones said “this could become the driest year on record.”
That makes the specter of a developing La Nina pattern in the tropical Pacific Ocean worrisome. La Nina is a weather phenomenon in which colder-than-usual ocean surface waters along the equator mix with the atmosphere, influencing weather around the globe.
La Nina usually means less snow and rain in New Mexico and the Southwest. The state just came out of a La Nina year.
Currently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is watching a weak to moderate La Nina set up.
“The models are showing a cooling of the tropical waters through January,” Jones said. “But a few are showing the water temperatures staying more neutral.”
The agency’s Climate Prediction Center will issue an official winter forecast in mid-October.
Meanwhile, the National Weather Service issued its first winter-weather advisory in Colorado as snow fell Wednesday and stormy weather was predicted in northern New Mexico through Thursday.
“La Nina doesn’t mean zero storms,” Jones said. “It just means the frequency with which we are hit with moisture-laden storms drops off dramatically.”