Snowpacks are built up across NM, but will how they melt pose problems?

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque is feeling more like Seattle these days with all the rain, and it hasn’t just been coming down in the metro.

“We are going to see water in areas that we haven’t seen water in a while,” Andrew Mangham, senior service hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said.   

That’s quite a different picture from last year.

“Everything was flammable, everything was extremely dry. The river was running low you may remember that at one point, the river actually ran the dry the Rio Grande,” said Mangham.  

Mangham said this year’s weather is providing a completely different outlook for New Mexico’s rivers come spring.

“New Mexico’s snowpack compared to last year at this time is one and a half times to two times higher than it was, and I’m talking about liquid water equivalent not just snow depth,” he said.  

Mangham says there is 25 to 30 inches of water locked in all that mountain snow.

“So that is good news by large for the water supply situation in New Mexico. That means we are having a substantially higher water supply forecast for the year, and that would be great for us, we need the water,” said Mangham.  

However, depending on how this water will melt raises some concern.

“Come spring if we end up getting a week of really hot weather or really warm rains up in the mountains or on top of that snowpack, that could result in that snow melting very rapidly, and then we could be talking about some flooding, especially up in the mountains in the towns along the northern Rio Grande,” Mangham said. “The reservoirs are in great shape to catch great flows and keep anything from hitting Albuquerque but that doesn’t preclude any dangerous conditions in other parts of the state.”