Forecaster: La Nina weather pattern locking area in drought

Freedom New Mexico

Eastern New Mexico and a significant port of the U.S. are locked in a strong La Nina weather pattern, resulting in exceptional drought conditions and extremely high temperatures, National Weather Service officials said Wednesday.

“This is not just happening on eastern New Mexico. It is the same over most of southwestern United States,” said Ken Widelski, lead forecaster with the NWS in Albuquerque.

Widelski said the strong La Nina pattern has taken storm systems well north of eastern New Mexico.

“Quay, Curry and Roosevelt counties have been in an extreme to exceptional drought for the past several months,” Widelski said. “Thirty-two percent of the state is in an exceptional drought.”

Widelski said there has been sporadic rainfall in the past month but nothing that would alleviate the drought conditions.

No temperature records were broken despite high heat Wednesday. Temperatures topped out at 99 degrees in Clovis.

“The normal temperatures for this area are in the mid-to-low 90s,” Widelski said.

Widelski said the record temperature for Thursday in Clovis’ is 104 degrees and Portales’ is 105 degrees. Both records were set in 1981.

“We have had several record-breaking temperatures this spring,” Widelski said. “Currently all three counties have above-normal temperatures.”

Widelski said the above-normal temperatures will continue for a week. He said forecast models are showing some chances for scattered showers in the area.

“There is not much chance for significant precipitation forecast in the next two weeks,” Widelski said.

Widelski said during this time of year the area can usually expect several severe thunderstorm systems to develop.

“The severe storm systems have been pretty much non-existent for eastern New Mexico,” Widelski said.

Widelski said because of the strong La Nina pattern, any chance for major relief from the temperatures and drought will come at the end of June at the start of the monsoon season.