Drought may break over summer

Tonjia Rolan

Relief from the state’s extended drought may come this summer, weather experts say.

The La Nina weather pattern, responsible for the hot, dry conditions, developed in 2010 and intensified in 2011.

National Weather Service meteorologist Deirdre Kann said the dry weather is expected to continue through the spring but as La Nina weakens in the summer months, near normal precipitation can be expected.

Last year was the sixth hottest on record for New Mexico, with half the normal rainfall in the Clovis area.

“Extreme drought conditions in New Mexico over the past year and a half have had devastating effects on farmers and ranchers,” Roosevelt County Extension Agent Patrick Kircher said. “Very little grass grew last year, forcing ranchers to sell herds or buy feed from out of state.”

Kircher said the winter wheat crop is already in dire straits.

Despite the prediction of a break in the drought this summer, Kircher said it may be too little too late. He said summer crops would not fare well if rains don’t break by April.

“I think this is a multi-year event,” Kircher said. “I don’t think you can suddenly fix this problem with a little bit of moisture.”