High winds and hot temperatures have tested the skills of gardeners and farmers and tried the patience of everyone this spring.
“We’ve certainly seen our share of warm and windy weather,” said Todd Shoemake, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. “We’re getting a little sick of it here at the National Weather Service.”
Shoemake said that high winds at upper levels of the atmosphere are causing the disturbance that creates the wind. He said most of those winds are coming off the Pacific, but they haven’t carried any moisture with them.
Shoemake said the Southwest is coming out of a weak La Niña weather pattern that brought little moisture and low humidity throughout the winter. The area will eventually move into an El Niño pattern that will bring more moisture.
“We see this pattern occur from time to time, but we can’t really pin it on one particular pattern,” Shoemake said.
Roosevelt County Extension Agent Patrick Kircher agrees that the weather has been unusual this spring.
“It’s not unusual for us to get hot in June. We can get a hot spell and cool back off,” Kircher said. “The unusual thing is the wind has held on so long.”
Kircher said farmers and gardeners he’s talked to have been faced with trying to get young plants started during the blast-furnace-like weather. Corn and cotton in particular are at a sensitive stage, he said.
“It’s been a real challenge,” Kircher said. “The challenge is this wind keeps drying the top level of soil out and you can’t get plants to sprout. If they do get sprouts, this hot wind blisters the leaves.”
Kircher said while rains in May helped, the area is still in drought conditions and he sees those worsening recently. He said that pasture ground is drying up and some ranchers have told him they may have to start supplemental feeding again if it doesn’t rain.
Those drying grasslands paired with the weather conditions have created a tinderbox for wildfire.
Shoemake said the NWS person assigned to wildfire didn’t have hard data on the number of red flag warnings (days when wind and humidity combine for high fire danger) issued, but said it was easily the highest number he had seen in the seven years he’s worked in the Albuquerque office.
Forecasts for the next week show temperatures remaining hot but winds calming. Chances for precipitation will increase slightly next week as well.