No end in sight for drought in NM

Posted at: 03/22/2013 6:32 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Many of New Mexico’s streams and rivers could shrink to a trickle or even dry up this spring and summer, according to long range forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

Last winter – warm and dry. Snowpack – anemic. Runoff – a joke. But nobody’s laughing.

Right now there’s water in the Rio Grande as it winds through Albuquerque, mainly because it’s managed by dams upstream. Rivers are running at 30 to 60 percent of average stream flow and it’s only going to get worse. Forecasters say many will run dry by summertime.

“It’s pretty sad,” said Arlene Enriquez, out for a hike along the banks of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque Friday afternoon. “I can’t even imagine that. It makes me want to do something about it, maybe try to find a way, a solution, pray for rain, make a rain dance!”

Last year the Rio Grande was a river of sand from Isleta Pueblo down to Elephant Butte for a good part of the summer. Meteorologist Shawn Bennett of the National Weather Service says it could happen again, on a bigger scale. It’s all because of a weak runoff and dirt. That’s right. Dirt.

“The soils are very dry because we’ve been in ongoing drought and so when the snowpack that we have received melts, a good component of that will go into the soil and not make it into a river.”

90 percent of our state is now in severe drought – or worse – and it shows no signs of going away anytime soon.