Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
Drought Likely To Persist Until Dec.
A New Mexico drought that is already by one measure the worst since the 1950s is not likely to relinquish its grip on the state until at least December, according to a new federal forecast. Water managers had hopes for El Niño, a climate pattern that tips the odds toward wetter weather in the Southwest. But El Niño has been slow in arriving, said Dave Miskus with the federal Climate Prediction Center in Maryland. “It hasn’t developed as quickly as they thought it would,” Miskus said in a telephone interview. As a result, Miskus and his colleagues say we should expect New Mexico’s drought conditions to persist at least through the end of 2012. We are not alone, with states from California to Texas and north to Wisconsin all getting the same message from Thursday’s forecast. Beyond Jan. 1, the picture is less bleak, according to the Climate Prediction Center, which develops the federal government’s national seasonal forecasts. The outlook for January through March calls for odds of wetter than average weather in southern and central New Mexico. “El Niño is coming. I think we can be confident about that. That’s the good news,” said University of New Mexico professor Dave Gutzler, a climate researcher. The question is whether it will come in enough time, and with enough strength, to help our drought conditions. With the state in the grip of two years of strong drought, water managers had been hoping El Niño would offer some relief, so Thursday’s forecast was disappointing, said Rolf Schmidt-Petersen of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission. A dry fall and early winter would be especially difficult because it would leave the state’s soils parched. Low soil moisture acts like a dry sponge, soaking up the initial rain or snow that falls rather than allowing it to flow into the state’s streams and rivers, Schmidt-Petersen explained. Reservoirs up and down the Rio Grande, normally a stockpile at this time of year against a dry winter, are at unusually low levels. Elephant Butte in southern New Mexico, the Rio Grande’s largest reservoir, is at just 5 percent of capacity currently, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation...more