On New Mexico’s Rio Grande, a brutal four years

With a sub-par snowpack once again in New Mexico’s high country, I got a Twitter question this morning about the last time we’d had a good snowpack. My favorite came in 2008, when I was just starting to track this sort of thing closely:

SAN MARCIAL— Water was already lapping at the side of the levee last week as Carolyn Donnelly drove down a dirt road parallel to the Rio Grande. The road runs along the top of a levee built in the 1950s to hold back the river. But Donnelly, a hydraulic engineer whose job is to help manage the unruly river, uses the word “levee” cautiously.

A, for the good old days, when spring runoff lapped at the sides of levees. The last decent runoff we had was in 2010. The brownish-yellow is the median, the blue line is actual:

Runoff at Albuquerque, 2008 - present, courtesy USGS

Runoff at Albuquerque, 2008 – present, courtesy USGS

As Chris Cervini said, “That’s a brutal last four years.”