For the first time since January 2011, less than half of New Mexico is classified in “drought” this morning in the weekly federal “Drought Monitor” (“drought” is the oranges and browns):
Driving back across the state from a meeting in Arizona last week, things looked greener than I’ve seen in a long time, though I realize that much of my drive, in western New Mexico, was still in the “drought zone”. But I’ve been out that way frequently since January, and you can see the change.
In addition, as I wrote yesterday, the May storms have (finally) brought Rio Grande spring runoff to its highest levels since 2010. But it’s important to remember what this does not mean.
Drought is no one thing. While the map above reflects good late spring precipitation, the mountain snowpack was terrible, and there’s no way to make up for that with spring storms. Drought on the landscape (greening of vegetation, shallow soil moisture) and water in the river are related, but they’re not the same. The map reflects drought on the landscape. Water in the rivers is still problematic. Flow on the Rio Grande may be up to levels we haven’t seen in five years, but that’s as much of a measure of how lousy it’s been over the last five years, as it is a measure of how good things are this year.