Long term drought: just two years since 1999 have been above average on the Rio Grande

Danger. Journalist doing math. There be dragons:

Otowi flow

Otowi flow

Otowi is the Rio Grande’s gateway to central New Mexico. Located between Santa Fe and Los Alamos, it’s the point where the river has picked up pretty much all the snowmelt it’s going to get, absent some minor contributions from the Jemez Mountains. It’s also a key point for calculating the relative water obligations of New Mexico and Texas under the Rio Grande Compact, which means there’s a nice, easy-to-access spreadsheet on my hard drive that I try to keep updated.

This evening I took a shot, based on the Feb. 1 NRCS forecast, at estimating 2014 flow. The last time we had four consecutive dry years on this scale was 1953-56. The last time we had six consecutive dry years was never, at least not in the Compact record, which goes back to 1940. I shall pursue a longer record and get back to you.

Update: Based on data from the TreeFlow folks, which I am dangerously number-crunching myself (see disclaimer at the top about dragons), the last time we had a losing streak this long on the Rio Grande was 1873-83.