Water outlook for 2018 in the Río Grande Basin 'deteriorates'

McClure Reservoir in the Santa Fe Municipal Watershed is shown at 5 percent capacity in October, when Nichols Reservoir was at 40 of capacity. Warmer temperatures throughout the state are making it difficult to replenish the state’s water supplies. Luis Sánchez Saturno/The New Mexican

The monthly water forecast released Tuesday (Feb. 6) by Natural Resources Conservation Service calls the dry trend "remarkable" with little chance of recovering snowpack for the coming year.

"January did little to improve conditions across New Mexico. Snowpack levels have dropped across the south and have only improved marginally in the northern basins, bringing statewide snow water equivalent totals to just 13 percent of [normal]," the report read.

Some places have "less than a 10 percent chance of achieving even 50 percent of what would be considered normal runoff," it read. "The window of opportunity to recapture this winter's snowpack has passed, and our chances for a recovery are all but non-existent without a major series of precipitation events."

Snowpack, which some scientists and land managers have found to be increasingly unreliable as a predictor of the water and fire conditions stands at 18 percent of normal as of Feb. 1. At this time last year, the snowpack stood at 158 percent of normal.

Historically, exceptionally large wildfires in the Taos Valley have tended to occur during drought years that follow several wet seasons.

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