Weather forecast calls for … almost anything

By David Stevens

David Stevens

David Stevens

PNT Editor

Yes, that was snow Monday morning — up to 1/2 inches in places around the region — and this is the middle of April.

But the natives were hardly surprised.

Longtime residents of the High Plains have gone trick-or-treating and Easter-egg hunting in the snow more than once. And we’ve spent a lot of Christmas afternoons playing touch football outside in our shorts.

We make national news for tornadoes, but 70-mph wind gusts that tip over trucks and trains don’t bring CNN or Fox to town because those events are not all that unusual in these parts.

Rain is more rare than jackalope sightings, and we only average about 18 inches per year … but you’ll want to be out of town the day we get it, is our favorite weather joke.

Examples of Mother Nature’s neurotic behavior:

• Clovis saw 82 degrees on Feb. 1, 1967. On that same date in 1951, we set an all-time record for cold — 17 degrees below zero.

• Christmas Day in 1919: We hit 91 degrees.

• July 4, 1915: The low was 53.

• Portales received 44.1 inches of rain in 1941, more than 38 inches of it from May through October. Floodwaters that spring rose 4 feet in places, and men in row boats were featured on the front page of the Portales Daily News as more than 65 people were left homeless because of water damage.

• At least twice — in 1921 and 1943 — parts of eastern New Mexico went three consecutive months without a drop of moisture.

August 1944 is generally considered our hottest spell — 11 straight days over 100 degrees and back-to-back 110-degree readings on Aug. 3-4.

In January 1963, we saw eight nights when the temperature never climbed above 1 degree.

Our heaviest snow season in a century-plus of record keeping occurred in 1911-12 with 43.3 inches.

A foot of blowing snow on Dec. 9-10, 1923, saw zero visibility and drifts up to 5 feet, shutting down roads and businesses across the region. That blizzard halted a passenger train south of Elida for six hours.

So, no, we weren’t surprised to see our five-day run of 80-degree high temperatures snapped by a mini blizzard on Monday morning, more than three weeks into spring.

Now snow in May would be kinda weird — that hasn’t happened around here since we saw 4.5 inches on May 3-4 in 1935. A Melrose farmer reported 4-foot drifts that weekend.

David Stevens could fill a chapter in a book about High Plains weather extremes. Most of the statistics in this report came from “Clovis, New Mexico: The First 100 Years” and “Portales, New Mexico: The First 100 Years.” Contact him at: dstevens@pntonline.com

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