Drought conditions intensify in northeast

Despite some isolated precipitation across northern New Mexico during the week ending April 15, the weather pattern was again dominated by fluctuating temperatures and dry, windy conditions, which caused further deterioration of native pasture grass, as well as soil moisture levels, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Mountain Regional Field Office, New Mexico. The United States Drought Monitor released on April 12 showed intensification of drought conditions in the northeast, with exceptional drought (D4) noted in an area centered over Union County that represents 2.2 percent of the state. Conditions rated abnormally dry or worse were reported across 99.9 percent of New Mexico. Overall, topsoil moisture levels were reported as 9 percent adequate to surplus, compared with 7 percent last week, 39 percent last year, and a 5-year average of 30 percent. Pasture and range condition was reported as 10 percent good to excellent, compared with 11 percent last week, 26 percent last year, and a 5-year average of 21 percent. Wildfires continued to be a concern statewide, with an approximate 30,000-acre fire reported across Lea and Roosevelt Counties. Spring fieldwork was ongoing, with row crops being planted as conditions allowed. Numerous comments noted the dry, windy weather and swings in temperature from extremely hot to cold. Precipitation was recorded at 13 out of 44 reporting weather stations. The largest moisture accumulation was reported at Capulin, where 0.45 inch fell. Average temperatures ranged from -2 degrees below normal to 7 degrees above normal.