There is still a lot of snow in them thar hills — close to four feet to be exact. And according to scientists with the state engineer’s office and the National Weather Service who watch and record this kind of data, 13 inches of moisture are trapped in the snow.
These recordings are from the Tolby Snotel site at over 10,000 feet, a recording station for our area. That is a lot of moisture according to the experts. It is the third most moisture recorded for this time of year in at least 20 years. The average moisture in the mountains is about eight inches during a normal year, so we’re well above that mark. In spite of the increased water and snow, the experts are not calling for significant flooding. They think at most the stream beds will overflow.
Runoff might make some of the holes at the Angel Fire Resort Golf Course unplayable, but the lake shouldn’t overtake downtown Eagle Nest. Experts are also saying due to the amount of snow and recent moisture Northern New Mexico is not in a drought situation. This is a good thing because our forests are in such poor shape in terms of flammable deadwood on the ground.
But it’s not time to stop forest management plans, prescribed burns or do away with defensible space and firewise practices either. It just means we have above-average moisture and snowpack, and we are in for one heckuva mud season.
Use caution when driving area roads, which are mostly dirt. The county and our towns and villages have already said they are doing all they can to lessen the effects of the runoff. But there is really nothing they can do except hope for wind and sun and make sure the snow is pushed back as far as it can go.
Mud season is the after-product of an epic snow season and in Northern New Mexico we’ll all take a few months of mud in exchange for the same in powder days. Be careful out there and when you are stuck in the mud remember all the good turns you enjoyed in February.