Rain chances in weekend forecast


July 1, 2020

It looks hot and dry out there. Eastern New Mexico was under a “red flag” warning on Tuesday, meaning “critical fire weather conditions” persisted, according to the National Weather Service.

But there is hope for moisture on the horizon. As we like to say in the drought-stricken High Plains: It’s monsoon season.

“We’re kind of getting into that pattern where we’ll have those daily chances of showers and thunderstorms each day,” said Scott Overpeck, meteorologist with the National Weather Service Albuquerque office.

While dry conditions will likely persist most of this week, the forecast for Clovis-Portales calls for a 20 percent chance of rain Friday and Saturday, then a 30 percent chance on Sunday.

The region will start to see moisture from the eastern Pacific, and upper-level high pressure will begin to build over the Southwest.

“That’s where we’re looking at the possibility of our monsoon kicking in for the summer,” Overpeck said.

To help gauge the potential of the North American monsoon, meteorologists examine sea surface temperature differences in the Pacific Ocean, short-term weather prediction models and long-term climate models.

Climate change appears to be playing a role in how much rain New Mexico receives from the monsoon, NWS meteorologist Andrew Church said.

“Over the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen a more volatile polar jet stream that has been drying us out more than in the ’80s and ’90s, when we had wet monsoons which were more frequent,” Church said.

Dry westerly winds often accompany the storms, Church said, and the Four Corners high-pressure system is getting stronger.

“You have to go higher up in the atmosphere before thunderstorms can develop,” Church said.

Summer outlooks predict near-average precipitation across most of New Mexico.

“It’s fickle, and highly dependent on location,” Church said. “We haven’t seen a robust monsoon in 14 years now.”

The months of May through September generally account for about 65 percent of the annual moisture received in eastern New Mexico, records show.

July and August are typically the region’s wettest months.

The Albuquerque Journal contributed to this report.


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