Dry county

Last year was sixth driest in recorded New Mexico history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association — and this year isn't stacking up to be much better.

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks

A playa located on Llana Estacado Boulevard remains dry from a lack on rainfall.

Clovis has seen just over a quarter inch of rain this year, according to Accuweather meteorologist Dave Samuhel. Samuhel said normal rainfall from January to April is 2.71 inches, based on a 30-year average.

Accuweather reported a trace of rain at Cannon Air Force Base Monday, but none at Clovis Municipal Airport.

Tuesday brought a brief spattering of rain mid-town that didn't even make the charts, Samuhel said.

Last year's rain total of 10.35 inches was a little more than half of the 30-year historical average for Clovis, according to accuweather.com.

Accuweather meteorologist Ken Clark blames the dry weather on a La Nina weather pattern but said he is cautiously optimistic for a return to normal moisture levels. "We're trending towards El Nino," Clark said.

"But last year we watched the same trend and then La Nina returned."

According to the National Weather Service, during a typical La Nina event, the jet stream shifts towards the earth's poles, with stronger than normal upper level high pressure over the U.S. west coast. Much of the southern continental U.S. as well as portions of the Great Plains experience drier than normal conditions.

Moderate to strong El Nino episodes reverse the effects of La Nina and produce above normal precipitation over the entire state of New Mexico, according to the National Weather Service.

This week the Associated Press reported all of New Mexico is categorized as either abnormally or exceptionally dry and national drought maps show drought conditions spreading across the West, upper Midwest and the East Coast.

New Mexico officials are concerned that less surface water will cause farmers to pump more groundwater, putting pressure on the state's already dwindling aquifer.

A report by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer already shows a dramatic increase in groundwater pumping by irrigators in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, the Associated Press reported.

Weather forecast

Accuweather meteorologist Brian Edwards said it's going to cool down over the next few days, due to a big dip in the jet stream over the western part of the country.

Friday will bring 35 mph to 40 mph winds as a cold front moves through, dropping temperatures into the mid 70s by the weekend.

There is a slight chance of isolated showers Sunday.

Precipitation totals for Clovis for the last five years

Normal is 19.13 inches per year based on a 30-year average.

2011 — 10.35

2010 — 18.74

2009 — 16.98

2008 — 13.98

2007— 16.33

Days in 2011 with 0.50 inches or more precipitation

Feb. 1 — 0.55

Aug. 12 — 1.02

Aug. 20 — 0.84

Oct. 7 — 0.50

Dec. 19 — 1.18

Monthly rain totals for 2011 compared to 2012

January

Historical average — 0.54

January 2011— trace

January 2012 — 0.00

February

Historical average — 0.43

February 2011-0.66

February 2012-0.10

March

Historical average — 0.94

March 2011-0.17

March 2012-0.11

April

Historical average — 0.92

April 2011 — trace

April 2012 — 0.07

Source: Accuweather.com

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