Sabot L'ours (sabotlours) wrote,
Sabot L'ours

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Here Comes Da Flood!

So much for La Nina! All of the forecasts have stated that we will have drier-than-average conditions in NM due to a fairly strong La Nina in the Pacific. While there is no direct connection between El Nino/La Nina and weather in the Southwest, they do effect the probability that we will be wetter or drier than normal.

I remember one year where there was a very distinct line between above normal and below normal. It was just the way the storm systems set up that Winter. This year it seems that something similar is setting up. We have had a few storms pass over ABQ, but they have been nothing to write home about. 150 miles to the north, however, the story has been very different. In the little town of Chama (where we have one of our satellite offices) they recently got dumped on with 4 FEET of snow. This was on top of a few feet that had fallen earlier in the year. Roofs have been collapsing and it's hard to keep the highways open.

I have been very excited about this since the area is the headwaters for one of the major tributaries of the Rio Grande. It's also the basin where the dams I control are located. So today I started doing some calculations and had an "Oh, shit!" moment. We are so ahead in the snow game that we will have plenty of water for next year. In fact, if it keeps snowing like it has, we will be doing some serious flood control operations in April and May.

For the most part I have known only drought in the 9 years I have worked here. We did have a nice wet season in '04-05, and this is shaping up to be a year just like that one. The difference is that we were coming off of a major drought in '01-02 and the reservoirs were largely empty. There was plenty of space to absorb all of the snowmelt. This year our reservoirs are pretty full. It's going to be a major task to find room for all of the water once the snow starts to melt. Add to all of this that the rivers have a channel capacity that should not be exceeded or else flooding will occur. We can only move so much water at any time so as not to flood people out. We also have old levees that can only take so much. They took a beating in the flows of '05, and even though most weak places have been strengthened, they haven't been tested.

So I'm in for some exciting times in the next few months. Of course La Nina could kick in big time and we could not get any more snow at all. That would leave us with just an average year. I personally don't see that happening. I'll see how right I am over the next couple of months.
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