Writer: D'Lyn Ford
LAS CRUCES Ð It's no secret that New Mexico is facing a drought. Weather statistics and predictions abound in newspapers, television broadcasts and radio programs. Now there's one more place New Mexicans can go for up-to-date status reports on the state's situation: the World Wide Web.
"We are the only Western state that has a drought plan online," said Ted Sammis, state climatologist and hydrologist with New Mexico State University's Agricultural Experiment Station. "The state's drought monitoring group posts information on the web about current conditions and areas that have been declared on alert status."
Reports from county agents with NMSU's Cooperative Extension Service also are available on the site located at http://weather.nmsu.edu/drought/index.htm. As of early August, Curry County agent Stanley Jones reported approximately 95 percent of dryland grain sorghum had been lost due to drought. In Quay County, agent Jeff Bader reported that 100 percent of grain sorghum had been lost, and many farmers have already used all of their irrigation allotment for the year.
The online reports are part of the New Mexico Drought Plan, drafted by Chuck Caruso of the State Engineer's Office. "Drought in the state can impact a variety of sectors, including economic, environmental and social activities," Caruso said. "The plan defines the process of drought assessment and identifies steps that can be implemented to lessen the impact."
Assessment is provided by the drought monitoring group that is made up of experts from NMSU, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, National Weather Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Geological Service, Bureau of Land Management, Corps of Engineers and New Mexico Interstate Streams Commission. These experts track climatological data, soil moisture and reservoir storage levels to determine drought conditions. "After reviewing all data, we make action recommendations to state and federal agencies," Sammis said. "These could be anything from altering agricultural irrigation to limiting recreational water use."
The next meeting of the monitoring group is scheduled for Aug. 13 at 1:30 p.m. at the Bureau of Land Management office, 435 Montano Road, in Albuquerque. Updated drought information will be posted on the web site as soon as possible.
© 2013 New Mexico State University Board of Regents
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