Drought conditions to continue for upcoming year
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A sign along the banks of the Rio Grande warns of the dangers of swimming in the river, but these days the river is more like a sandy beach in the Southern New Mexico desert.
The Elephant Butte Irrigation District has set water allotments for this year and it doesn't look too good for farmers.
"We had a fairly bad snow year," said New Mexico State Climatologist David DuBois.
DuBois said the lack of water is linked to poor snowfall in the mountains and warmer temperatures are melting the snow earlier in the season.
He said snow is melting about a month earlier than the long term average.
According to DuBois snowfall typically peaks during the first couple of weeks of April.
"We started off ok but were are looking at the snow pattern which is almost like 2012 which wasn't a good year at all," Dubois said.
With back-to-back years of little to no snow runoff from up north, the current drought is historically bad.
"We've been comparing to some of the worst years like the Dust Bowl years and the mid 50's," Dubois said.
Those two eras experienced prolonged droughts for several years.
With currently about three really dry years in the region water reserves are low.
Those conditions mean farmers will have to supply their fields with ground water pumped through wells.
EBID released a report stating farmers would get about 4 to 6 inches of water for the season beginning in June and ending in July or August.
The hope would be for a strong monsoon season but Dubois said it doesn't look promising.
"Everybody has been hoping for El Nino which would signal rain but I don't think we are going to see that," DuBois said.