Quay County rainfall for 2013 measured nearly two-thirds the amount in a normal year, which provided some relief from drought conditions.
National Weather Service information, however, shows that drought conditions are still serious in the county and surrounding areas.
Despite the four to five inches of rain that washed over sections of the county in September, swelling streams and adding welcome inches to the levels of Ute and Conchas lakes, the drought is still in full sway, the weather service said.
September’s storms had two significant results: The Arch Hurley Conservancy District decided it would start releasing water to its farm clients next season, based on a rise in the elevation of Conchas Lake, and reductions of ranch cattle herds stopped in the November assessment, with the cattle head count actually increasing slightly, according to figures from the Quay County Assessor’s office.
Figures compiled at the Tucumcari New Mexico State University Agricultural Research Center show that the nearly 1.3 inches of precipitation last January and February actually exceeded the normal amounts that fall from the sky during those months in a normal year.
September’s deluge brought the total rainfall for the month to about 2.7 times normal for the month, but brought the year’s total only to about 72 percent of normal for the first nine months.
After September, rainfall petered out again. The October-December total precipitation recorded at the ag science center was 0.8 inches, about 30 percent of the nearly 2.7 inches received in a normal year for those three months. Except in January, February and September of 2013, monthly rainfall or snowfall averaged nearly an inch below normal.
National Weather Service maps representing conditions as of Dec. 31 show that most of Quay County is still in severe drought but southwest and northeast sections are in moderate drought.
The weather service said that three-quarters of the state remains in moderate to extreme drought, but “exceptional drought,” its worst drought level, has disappeared from the state.
The NWS maps and information are located at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/?n=drought.