ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — After marching through one of the driest winters the state has seen in more than a century, Mother Nature is providing drought-stricken New Mexico with some snow and rain.
National Weather Service forecasters say the state should brace for abundant moisture and gusty winds through the weekend. The state’s northern mountains are also expected to receive much needed snow that will fuel rivers’ water supplies later in the year.
“We’re looking at a really big system coming in from California that will weaken a bit but will still bring some snow and rain,” meteorologist David Craft said. The northern mountains could see as much as 18 inches of snow and the central mountains might also get snowfall, he said.
Winds of up to 55 mph are expected to move into eastern and western New Mexico by Saturday, and snow is expected in the high mountains Saturday night through Sunday. Other areas around central and western New Mexico are expected to see some rainfall.
Because of the winter weather, Western New Mexico University’s softball games against Adams State and Fort Lewis have been moved Sunday and Monday in Durango, Colo., where heavy snow is also expected.
The National Resource Conservation Service said in February that the snowmelt runoff from the mountains is expected to be “less than average” to “significantly less than average,” because the region has not had the needed snow and is still suffering from a persistent drought.
Runoff forecasts range from about 70 percent of average near the border with Colorado to around 30 percent on the Rio Grande entering Elephant Butte Reservoir, and the Jemez and Mimbres rivers, the agency said.
Some the mountains where this weekend’s snow is expected to hit have received only 50 percent of the average snow this season, Craft said.