By Darrell Todd Maurina
Sunday’s heat wave turned into a cold snap for eastern New Mexico by Monday, as a 41-degree temperature drop brought strong winds and the area’s first rainfall this month.
“We still get cold fronts into the state sometimes as late as early or mid-June, but usually they are not nearly that strong,” said Mark Fettig, a National Weather Service forecaster in Albuquerque. “By the time it got to our state, it did have modified arctic air, but meteorologically speaking, it was just an unseasonably strong cold front.”
While Sunday’s high temperatures were 100 in both Clovis and Portales, Tuesday’s high was 59 in Clovis and 76 in Portales. Overnight temperatures dipped to 45 degrees on Tuesday in Clovis and 46 on Tuesday in Portales.
Fettig said the temperature differences between Clovis and Portales were caused by the rapid change in temperatures around midnight. While the Clovis highs represent late-afternoon temperatures, the Portales highs for those days are immediately after midnight because the cold front hit Portales later than Clovis.
Such dramatic differences can do more than confuse weather records. While only rain came this week, the consequences could have been worse.
“These conditions can produce severe thunderstorms but a strong change in temperatures won’t do much of anything at all if there is little or no moisture on either side of the front,” said Fettig.
Fettig said the change in air masses led to two sets of relatively mild thunderstorms over Monday night and early Tuesday morning.
“There was a thunderstorm that started a little after 11:15 p.m. and ended a little before 12:15 a.m.,” said Fettig. “About an hour to two hours after that there was some more thunderstorm activity.”
For Clovis, the first thunderstorm brought .01 inch of rain and the second brought .05 inch. Cannon Air Force Base recorded .1 inch of rain for both storms and Portales recorded .07.
Clovis last received measurable precipitation on April 23, NWS reported.