New Mexico’s snowpack totals above normal

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Snowpack measurements across New Mexico are turning out well above normal.

“We were not expecting the numbers to be as good as they are at this point in the year,” said Laura McCarthy, New Mexico state forester.

Snowpack in the Rio Chama Watershed area is 132% of normal, and in the Jemez River area it’s 114% of normal.

Snowpack totals across the state range from 58% in Rio Hondo, to 191% in the Zuni/Bluewater area in western New Mexico.

For McCarthy, the numbers are a surprise.

“Going into the fall the forecast was for a third La Niña, low snowpack winter in a row,” she said.

Still, McCarthy warns that it’s early in the winter. It’s important for the snowpack to stay healthy and stick around as long as possible – that would mean a better spring runoff and stronger irrigation season, and it would help put a dent in what could be another busy fire season.

“The snowpack could alleviate some of that, but I don’t think there’s any scenario where an above-normal snowpack will translate directly into a milder fire season,” McCarthy said.