Officials happy, but not optimistic, about recent rain

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

Farmers and firefighters throughout Tucumcari were more than happy to start Thursday morning by greeting the rainfall. However, they’re not optimistic to get many more visits throughout the spring and summer months.

Thursday gave Tucumcari .07 inches of rain, an amount that was only visible in puddles by late afternoon. However, that precipitation was far more than the city received all of February. The entire month, according to the New Mexico State University Agricultural Science Center’s precipitation report, registered as tr, or trace.

That term, Science Center Superintendent Rex Kirksey said, means the city could have had some rain, but it wasn’t enough to be measured on any of the month’s 28 days.

Any amount of rain is a welcome sight for local fire departments, Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry said. Area fire departments have been on high alert throughout the state as wind and dry grass represents great potential for danger.

“(Hopefully) it will follow up with some more rain in a few days,” Cherry said. “Even a little bit of rain like this helps us tremendously because the grass takes in the rain pretty quickly.”

Cherry, however, warns that citizens still need to be extremely careful, as most weather forecasters are predicting dry conditions as late as August.

Quay County Extension Agent Pete Walden, like Cherry, isn’t optimistic that farmers and other citizens can bank on wet weather.

“I do know the forecast is for some additional rains in the next week,” Walden said, “but they’re forecasts. I’d hate to get too excited right now.”

Walden said the biggest tolls are being taken by wheat farmers who have seen much of their crop dry up, and livestock owners have a lot less grazing area to feed their animals.

“Some (livestock owners) have lots of grass and can hold off until the summer,” Walden said. “If they have to buy a lot of forage or hay, they may want to look at reducing (livestock) numbers.”

Cherry reminded residents that a burn ban was approved last week by the Tucumcari City Council and anybody who has questions or concerns is welcome to contact the fire department.