Although this week brought a drastic shift in the weather, with temperatures dropping to freezing and near-freezing around the Tricounty, the outlook for the winter is warmer than normal.
That’s according to Daniel Porter, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, who said that because of the ocean-atmosphere phenomenon called La Niña, colder weather this year will be pushed further north than New Mexico.
This week, temperatures reached lows of 32 degrees in Edgewood, Moriarty and Mountainair, 33 degrees in Estancia and 34 degrees in Tijeras, according to data from the National Weather Service and weather.com.
The lowest temperature in the state was Clines Corners at 31 degrees. According to the National Weather Service, Albuquerque set a record high one day and a record low the next.
Despite the icy late-summer blast, the forecast for the winter months is warmer than normal, Porter said.
“Generally, in the east central Pacific … near the equator, the sea surface temperatures in that area are typically below normal [with La Niña],” he said. “If we look at the patterns across the northern hemisphere related to that, that allows the storm track to remain well to the north of New Mexico. What that basically does is just tips the scales a little bit. If the storm track is further to the north there’s less opportunities for storms to come across New Mexico.”
But Porter also said, “Not all La Niñas are created equal, so it doesn’t mean that we won’t have winter storms that will impact New Mexico to that effect.” But, he said, on average, most winters with La Niña conditions have been warmer.
As far as winter precipitation, Porter said those chances could be lower as well.
“But when we say that, that’s on average,” he said. “[When storms come] in they are going to bring colder air with them as well. So, it’s kind of harder to predict how much more or less snow is going to occur in a winter season.”
Porter said he still wants people to prepare for the cold winter just in case.
“I think the key message in any reporting is that there will still be cold blasts just like we had this past couple of days,” he said. “Those will still occur. There will still be winter weather that will still impact New Mexico, and people should still be prepare for those type of events as the winter season comes in.”