2012 warmest year on NM record

Posted at: 01/04/2013 9:43 PM
Updated at: 01/04/2013 10:12 PM
By: Eddie Garcia, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Since 2000 we have had more dry years than wet years, according to the National Weather Service. And the past two years have been driest and warmest on record, but the damage has been done.

92 percent of New Mexico is in severe drought or worse and we've had a very slow start to snow accumulation so far this season. In fact, snowpack everywhere from Chama to Ruidoso is 75 percent below where we should be for December.

The effects are far reaching.

Already the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is alerting Rio Grande water users, including Albuquerque, that they may receive just 80 percent of their usual supply from the San Juan-Chama Project in 2013 because the drought has put a dent in the water reserves.

The project hasn't faced a shortage since it was completed in the 1970s.

The damage has been done to farmers and ranchers who are being forced to cut back on crops and herds. And the crispy, dry vegetation is ripe for bigger wildfires like the devastating - Las Conchas, Wallow and Whitewater Baldy fires - no place in New Mexico is immune.

The National Weather Service says if current conditions persist the outlook is grim. Even if snowfall and rain return to normal, it will take two or more years to break the drought and get back to average.

New Mexico needs the storm track to turn in our direction this winter and spring to get to the point to where monsoon this summer will begin to help. But meteorologists say it's more likely we will still be in the drought this spring and summer.

Overall, the temperature numbers from the past several years show us transitioning into a new normal: The National Weather Service says the state is going to be warmer on average from now on.

 2012 is on track to be the warmest year on record.