Rains ease drought, but flooding threats loom

·2 min read

Jun. 27—In the past two weeks, some parts of New Mexico have received more than half of their typical annual rainfall.

The persistent rain is helping to "put a dent" in statewide drought conditions, said Daniel Porter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

Rain chances will likely diminish for much of this week, before rebounding this weekend.

"It's an impressive start to the monsoon season across the region," Porter said. "It took us a long time to get into this drought, and it's still going to take us quite a bit of time to get out of this drought."

The storms have also brought cooler temperatures.

On Sunday, Albuquerque set a record for the coldest high temperature for June 26 at 71 degrees.

Albuquerque has a forecast high of 82 degrees on Tuesday.

But the rain also poses a flooding threat for northern New Mexico communities impacted by massive wildfires.

"We do not want to let our guard down," Porter said.

Ash and debris have begun flowing into streams in and near the new burn scars.

The Gallinas Creek west of Las Vegas is especially vulnerable to pollution from the burned area.

Flash flooding remains possible in and near burn scars if slow-moving rainstorms materialize this week.

Water flooded at least one road in Las Vegas on Monday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and National Guard are working to protect water infrastructure in San Miguel and Mora counties from burned materials.

NWS hydrologist Andrew Mangham said that waterways will likely rise more now that "soils are saturated."

"We're in a very unusual hydrologic regime," Mangham said of the recent slow and steady rainfall. "All the rivers are filling up and starting to respond."

The rain has turned some ephemeral streams that are usually dry into free-flowing waterways.

"We're getting the perfect kind of rain for the drought to be improved on," Mangham said. "But it's going to take more."