The rain hampered rescue and recovery operations for the flooding. The flooding in Colorado has already claimed seven lives and an estimated 1,200 people are unaccounted for. Only scattered "pop-up" showers and thunderstorms are expected along the front Range the next 36 hours, with dry weather the rest of the week.
While most of the attention has been focused on Colorado, the same weather pattern resulted in heavy rain and flooding in New Mexico this past week. Some locations have received more than 10 inches of rain, with the CoCoRaHS observer at NM-ED-18 (Carlsbad 33.3 WSW) picking up 11.39 inches of rain in a three-day span.
|7-day precipitation ending 6:00 am MDT on 9/16/2013|
Recall that New Mexico earlier this summer was ground zero for the drought in the west . Drought is still pervasive across the state, although conditions have improved since June.
The rain this week resulted in heavy runoff swelling rivers and streams. Albuquerque has received 3.35 inches of rain this month, three times normal. It is also the wettest September on record, breaking the old record of 3.31 inches in 1929. The normal annual precipitation for Albuquerque is only 9.45 inches.
Saturated soils and runoff have contributed to flooding of low lying areas, and floodwaters have broken through dams, inundating neighborhoods and leaving behind mud and debris. The flooding forced evacuations in some areas, and flooding on the Gila River closed the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. There was one fatality attributed to the flooding.
The rain has put a big dent in the drought, but it will need to be sustained over a longer period to begin to turn things around. Here are two water balance charts for CoCoRaHS station NM-BR-56 (near Albuquerque). The first shows the balance beginning August 1st. Rain over the last 45 days has brought a significant improvement in short term conditions.
If we extend the water balance chart back to May 15, the improvement is not nearly as remarkable. Since May 15 the water balance (precipitation minus evaporation) is -15.40 inches, and it will take much more rain over a longer period to eat away at that deficit.