Data through September 17, 2013. Data Sources: New Mexico State Drought Monitoring Committee, U.S. Drought Monitor
The monsoon has delivered much needed rainfall to New Mexico. In the last 30 days, above-average precipitation fell in almost all of the state, with many areas seeing rainfall totals of two to three times the average for this time of year. Several slow moving upper level disturbances sparked heavy precipitation events in mid-September that led to flash flooding and several dam breaks in northern and central parts of the state. While these events were damaging, they have contributed to a second consecutive month of substantial improvements in short-term drought conditions. On June 18, more than 90 percent of New Mexico was classified with extreme or exceptional drought. This number fell to 66 percent in mid-August. In the most recent update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, published on September 17, only about 6 percent of New Mexico was classified with these drought categories (Figures 5a–b). Also, much of the southwestern quarter of the state is now just abnormally dry, which is not considered a drought classification. These areas were tagged as severe to extreme over the past year.
The New Mexico section of the U.S. Drought Monitor is released weekly (every Thursday) and represents data collected through the previous Tuesday. The maps are based on expert assessment of variables including (but not limited to) the Palmer Drought Severity Index, soil moisture, streamflow, precipitation, and measures of vegetation stress, as well as reports of drought impacts. It is a joint effort of several agencies.