Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Meteorologists: Snow could be coming — and soon

Staff writer

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Are you dreaming of a white Christmas by the fire or a clear afternoon for golf? Weather experts say the former is more likely.

To speculate on what Mother Nature might bring Clovis and Portales this fall and winter, meteorologists and scientists look to the sea, measuring the temperature of the surface waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Warmer temperatures indicate El Nino (wetter than normal) and cooler temperatures indicate La Nina (drier than normal).

“That’s one of the key elements we look for in New Mexico. … It sounds like a stretch to ask what that impact has on New Mexico, but it has a pretty big correlation,” said Todd Shoemake, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.

“In El Nino years we see above-normal precipitation. One of the things we’ve been watching in the last few months is El Nino trying to develop. While it hasn’t officially taken hold it will probably develop in the next six weeks.

“That is an indicator that we will see above-average precipitation in (eastern New Mexico) — higher chances for above-average precipitation this winter and an earlier onset of first snowfall is likely.”

An earlier onset, Shoemake said, means we might see snow sooner than Dec. 16, which is the region’s median date of first snowfall.

Dan True, a retired meterologist who lives in Clovis, said speculating on weather should take into account many variables measured over a long period of time.

“The oceans have evaporated 8 percent more moisture into the world’s atmosphere than we’ve had in human history,” True said. “Since there is that increase, it automatically follows that whenever it rains you’ll get more, and whenever it snows you’ll get more.”

Last season, a Clovis weather observer reported 15.2 inches of snowfall to the National Weather Service, while Portales recorded 9.6 inches.

Shoemake said the area averages 8.4 inches of snowfall annually, but he expects to surpass that in the coming months and we may see more than last year.

Forecast

• The first hard freeze of the season is expected this week, with temperatures expected to drop into the 20s, starting Tuesday. Forecasters say we could have snow as early as next weekend.

Did you know ...

• The heaviest snowfall recorded in Clovis’ history was in November 1911. Western Regional Climate Center reports show 22.5 inches of snow fell that month. For the season, Clovis recorded 43.3 inches of snow, also a record.

• Clovis has seen more than 30 inches of snow in a season only twice in 103 years of record keeping — 43.3 inches in 1911-12 and 38 inches in 1982-83.