By Thomas Garcia
Staff writer 

Meteorologist: Quay rainfall tops 19 inches

Water is released from Ute Lake Reservoir for first time since 2006.


October 11, 2017

Courtesy Photo: Rex Stall

Water flows down the spillway Friday afternoon at the Ute Lake Dam in Logan.

Thanks to recent rainfall portions of Quay County are experiencing the second wettest season in history, attributing to what would be the first release of water from the Ute Lake Reservoir dam down stream to Texas since 2006.

The normal rainfall for Quay County during the first nine months is 14.22 inches of rain; this year, a total of 19.86 inches has been recorded, said Brian Guyer, meteorologist for the National Weather Service Albuquerque.

"Significant rainfall most over the past 15 days has the yearly total more than five inches over the normal," Guyer said.

Guyer said since Sept. 21 Logan has recorded 8.56 inches of rain, a station north west of Tucumcari recorded 7.84 inches during that time. He said a station four miles north east of Tucumcari reported rainfall 6.33 inches between Sept. 21-Oct. 5, the second highest rainfall recorded at that station in early October since 1941 (6.51 inches).

As of Friday the elevation of Ute Lake is 3,788.98 feet, between Sept. 15 and Oct. 5 Ute Reservoir's surface elevation increased approximately 3.8 feet, said Melissa Dosher-Smith, spokesperson New Mexico Office of the State Engineer/Interstate Stream Commission.

Dosher-Smith said the lake has surpassed its maximum allowed storage of 200,000 acre feet, and the release of water will be approved until the surface elevation is reduced to 3786.97 feet. She said New Mexico Canadian River Compact Commissioner Caleb Chandler sent an e-mail and certified letter to Texas Canadian River Compact Commission Roger Cox.

Cox indicated by email that they would like for the release to be conducted in an orderly fashion and as soon as possible. The river has already been inundated by the recent floods in the area. The release from Ute Reservoir would only be a fraction of what this section of the river has already seen during the most recent storm.

Dosher-Smith said this release could last several weeks depending on the release schedule. She said the release schedule will be coordinated with Texas but that officials expect for it to be approximately 300 cubic feet per second.

Guyer said before this period of extended rainfall the soil moisture percentage values were around 10 percent across Quay County. He said currently these values are near 80 percent, not just in the top 10 cm, but as far down as four feet 60 percent soil moisture is being reported.

"As a result of the high soil moisture percentage flooding has become an issue in the region," Guyer said. "At this point, any further Significant rainfall will cause flooding and increased flows in streams and rivers."

Guyer said over the weekend there will be a short period of drying out for the region over the weekend. He said a cold front is expected to move into the region next week that could produce more rain in the area. The forecasted model shows higher than normal dry conditions for Quay County for the remainder of the month, Guyer added.


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