Warmer and drier — again. That's the forecast for eastern New Mexico's winter of 2012-2013, courtesy of the National Weather Service's Albuquerque office.
"On average," said Tim Shy, senior forecaster for the NWS, "it will be a little warmer and a little drier than normal. That means there will be more days that are warmer than usual and fewer days it will be cooler than the average."
Shy's forecast applies through March 2013, he said.
So far December's 16 days of above-normal temperatures and three cooler-than-normal days, with a total of .01 inch of precipitation on Dec. 16 and another dusting on Tuesday, has followed the expected pattern, Shy said.
The area has already experienced two consecutive very dry years, said Troy Marshall, a weather technician in the Albuquerque NWS office.
The years 2011 and 2012, so far, each experienced about half of a normal year's precipitation of about 18 inches per year.
Maps on the national Drought Monitor website show much of Curry and Roosevelt counties within an area of "exceptional drought" that includes adjacent Texas Panhandle counties.
The Drought Monitor is operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which includes NWS; the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
New Mexico, however, is no stranger to drought, Shy said. Over the past 80 years, he said, "New Mexico has been in drought conditions 70 percent of the time."
The NWS forecasts a 10 percent chance of precipitation on Sunday and Monday, increasing to a 20 percent chance on Monday night. The 20 percent chance is expected to continue through New Year's Day.