Flood risks remained in southeast New Mexico after heavy monsoon rains two weeks ago were followed by increased rain chances Monday afternoon through Wednesday night.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Midland, Texas issued flash flood watches for southeast New Mexico and West Texas from 3 p.m. Monday until 6 p.m. Tuesday.
One to three inches of rainfall was forecast across entire region, read an NWS forecast.
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Carlsbad’s rain chances were 50 percent Monday afternoon, increasing to 60 percent Monday night and rising to 70 percent Tuesday through Wednesday afternoon, the NWS forecast stated.
Rain chances in Carlsbad were forecast to drop to 50 percent Wednesday night.
David Hennig, NWS meteorologist in Midland, said a shifting high pressure system along with a cold front and upper level weather disturbance provided key combinations for heavy rains along with the regular summer monsoon patterns.
“We could see widespread decent rainfall amounts possible,” he said.
Forecasted heavy rains came nine days after strong storms north of Carlsbad increased water levels in the Pecos River.
NWS Chaves County Skywarn Coordinator Jim Tucker said radar estimated nearly eight inches of rain fell from a stalled thunderstorm north of Roswell during the weekend of Aug. 20.
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He said increased water moving slowly along the Pecos River prompted flooding of roads and farmland near the town of Dexter Aug. 23 and Aug. 24.
Dexter Consolidated Schools canceled classes Aug. 23 from concerns flood waters could have hit the elementary school.
Flood warnings were issued last week along the Pecos River from Roswell to Artesia by the NWS in Midland and Albuquerque.
“Anywhere you have heavy rain where the storms come in and stall are particularly prone to seeing flooding,” Tucker said.
Hennig said the river did not reach flood stage in certain places along the Pecos River and flood warnings were canceled Friday at about 7:15 p.m.
He said conditions were right in the air and the ground for the flood watch.
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Lake Arthur Police Chief Colter Childress said water levels along the Pecos River peaked at about 13 feet last week in the southernmost Chaves County community north of Artesia.
He said there were no reports of flooding or property damage.
“We’re back to about six feet,” Childress said of water levels Monday morning.
Recent rainfall eased Eddy County’s drought situation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
During the week of Aug. 25, the County was mostly in the severe drought category, the third-highest category.
During the week of Aug. 16, southern Eddy County was in severe drought mode and northern Eddy County was in extreme drought, per the U.S. Drought Monitor.
The U.S. Drought Monitor defined severe drought with likely crop or pasture losses, water shortages are common and water restrictions may be imposed.
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Crop and pasture losses, widespread water shortages and restrictions make up the extreme drought category, per the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Eddy County’s January through August rainfall in 2022 was well below the same time period in 2021, according to data from the New Mexico State University Artesia Science Center.
This year’s rainfall so far was 6.29 inches compared to 10.78 inches during the same time frame in 2021.
This month, 2.06 of rain fell at the Science Center between Artesia and Carlsbad.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.