The forecast for the next few months will be drier in March, followed by wetter conditions in April and May. That’s according to Andy Church, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Albuquerque.
“We’ve got numerical weather prediction models that are run months in advance, at a slightly lower resolution than we’d run with a weather model,” Church explained. The models are run on supercomputers in Washington, DC.
Conditions in surface water temperature in the equatorial Pacific Ocean lead to what are called El Niño or La Niña years. El Niño is caused by warmer than average surface temperatures, while La Niña is colder than average surface temperatures.
Church said condition had rapidly changed, from El Niño conditions to La Niña, which he called unprecedented. “That rapid change has happened once in the last 75 years,” he said. “You don’t normally see a rapid transition from El Niño to La Niña then back. Usually it stays neutral for a year or two until the La Niña occurs.”
In New Mexico, El Niño conditions typically mean a wet winter.
In terms of wind, Church said the East Mountains and Estancia Valley are on track this spring to be average or above average. The National Weather Service has already issued its first Red Flag warning, meaning windy and dry conditions that can spread fire quickly.
A model run in Boulder, Colo., predicts an elevated chance of flash flooding during the rainy season, Church said.
“It looks like March will be the drier of the spring months,” Church said. “If we start to get warming in the eastern equatorial Pacific, that tends well for a wet season.”