Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Wet Thursday Across Much of the Region

Many New Mexicans woke up to a soggy and drizzly morning today, after a week when rain fell over much of the state. Rain fell through the night in much of the southern part of the state and in the El Paso region. An upper level low pressure system has brought moisture and cooler temperatures to the area, and more rain is expected throughout the day in southern New Mexico.

Looking at the precipitation data entered for this morning at the CoCoRaHS website (CoCoRaHS is a network of volunteers who report on the precipitation that falls at their location), most of the rain is happening in the southern part of the state, although some rain was reported in Quay and Curry counties in east-central New Mexico and some in San Miguel county in the central part of the state.

Precipitation amounts for  July 18 in New Mexico. Image from cocorahs.org


It appears as though Eddy County saw the most rainfall in the state over night, with rainfall reports in Carlsbad of over 2 inches at all six reporting stations and over 3 inches at two reporting stations. In fact, the rain in the area was so bad that Carlsbad Caverns had to be evacuated early on Wednesday. The fear of flooding is higher than usual because of a June 2011 fire that burned in the area.

This image from the National Weather Service's Midland/Odessa TX radar shows precipitation estimates in Eddy County for the time period of 4:58 CDT on Sunday, July 14 to 12:32 CDT on Thursday, July 18. The orange bands to the west and east of Carlsbad indicate rainfall estimates of between 3 and 4 inches. The yellow bands indicate estimates of 2.5 to 3 inches. The darkest green color indicates estimates of 2 to 2.5 inches; the medium green 1.5 to 2 inches; the light green 1 to 1.5 inches.
Rain fall estimates in Eddy County, NM. Radar image from the National Weather Service


The El Paso region has also received much rain since yesterday. The image below shows the precipitation reports from CoCoRaHS observers in El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas. The dark blue and green values show reports of up to an inch of rain; the orange values show over an inch. These reports are taken in the morning and show rain that has fallen over the last 24 hours. Hudspeth County seems to have gotten the most rain of the two counties.

Precipitation amounts for El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas for July 18. Image from cocorahs.org

Much of the southern New Mexico and El Paso county are under a flash flood warning through tonight. While the monsoon brings much needed rain to the area, that rain can cause flash floods, which can occur quickly and can be dangerous. Residents should use caution when driving and avoid roads that are flooded. Floods are the number two weather-related cause of death (after heat) in the United States. See the National Weather Service for weather warnings and advisories in your area.

Rain events of this type are to be expected this time of year, when the region experiences the Mexican (or North American) Monsoon. More than half of the state's precipitation occurs during the three months of the monsoon season (July-September).

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