New Mexico water outlook threatens outdoor activities

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – New Mexico’s continued drought is increasing fire danger. But it is also doing something else.

KOB 4 weatherman Brandon Richards shows us how the drought is also drying up opportunities for outdoor fun.

The fire danger is worse than it has been in decades and now many state forests are closed.

“We’re in the middle of what people are calling a 20-year mega-drought,” said Andrew Mangham, senior hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque. “Generally all of our rivers, all of our lakes, run quite low, and that’s going to affect our recreational access.”

An outlook from the Climate Prediction Center indicates that the summer of 2022 will be hotter and drier for most of the state. So what about those summer plans? Restrictions can go beyond forest access.

Most of the large reservoirs in the state are the main focal points for recreation around the state. But the reservoirs are there for the management of the water supply. Now those are all low, the piers are dry, it’s harder to get in the water, and the fish are concentrating or dying from the extreme heat we’re experiencing. Thus, all aspects of aquatic recreation will be negatively affected.

Mangum says La Niña is to blame for the dreary winter snow.

“We’re getting a lot less precipitation in our northern mountain ranges, and a lot lower snowpacks, a lot drier conditions and that kind of puts us a step back on the water budget for the year,” Magnum said.

But you might be surprised to learn that La Niña doesn’t have a death grip on us all year round. Interestingly, La Niña can help with monsoon rains.

However, says Mangum, we would need more than just one good season to end the mega-drought.

“We need sustained wet models, for a few years. To really start getting our rivers up we need to get out of the La Niña pattern for the winter, we need big heavy snow packs. He’s a huge player in this state.

More snow means higher lake levels and more opportunities for fun.

And before you head out on your leisure plans this summer, know before you go. Check all restrictions and closures there, so you can be as safe as possible.