Forecasters predict windy, dusty weather

Posted at: 03/22/2013 5:16 PM
Updated at: 03/22/2013 5:17 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Long range forecasters for the National Weather service say there will something in the wind for New Mexico this spring - and it could arrive as early as this weekend.

We’re talking dust here.

Remember 2010? A combination of dry and windy weather made it the dustiest year on record in New Mexico. Well, hold onto your hat and grit your teeth because it’s likely to happen again this year, and it could even be worse.

Meteorologists say that after three straight years of drought the soil is so dry and fine even a moderate breeze could whip it up into a dust storm that’ll bring tears to your eyes – literally.

Just ask Vanessa Martinez, who was walking her dogs along the Rio Grande in Albuquerque Friday afternoon.

“Actually, when I was driving up from Las Cruces I was in the midst of a dust storm,” said Martinez. “It was like the big dust storms they have in Afghanistan, almost similar to that. That’s how bad it was.”

National Weather service forecasters say the potential is there for more storms like the giant one that blew tons of dirt through the air in eastern New Mexico and west Texas back in the fall of 2011, if the wind is strong enough.

“Those winds coming underneath the storm could produce those kinds of conditions, with those very, very heavy winds,” said meteorologist Chuck Jones. “A lot of dust gets kicked up, a lot of sand like from White Sands as well, and that can track hundreds of miles into the center of the country.”

The long term outlook is for persistent drought through June, with a hint – kind of a shaky hint – that we may be looking at yet another dry, warm winter! Heavens forbid!