Home News Local News Rains in early 2021 not enough to prevent drought

Rains in early 2021 not enough to prevent drought

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Standing water around the gas pumps of the Allsup’s at 6000 S. Main Street on June 6, a week after heavy rains caused flooding in south Roswell. Despite heavy rains on Memorial Day weekend, the Roswell area is ending 2021 with moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. (Daily Record File Photo)

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Roswell and Chaves County are ending 2021 on a dry, warm and windy note but overall experienced above the normal level of annual precipitation, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Most of the area’s rainfall came at the end of May through mid-July and included a 100-year storm that brought more than 5 inches of rain southwest of Roswell within 24 hours to some parts of the county.

At the Roswell Air Center, where the National Weather Service records its weather data, 3.03 inches of rain fell on May 30 with an additional 1.65 inches on May 31.

The heavy rains flowed to the Twin Rivers Dam, a flood control project west of Roswell consisting of the Rocky Dam and the Diamond A Dam. The project is managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

While the northern dam, the Diamond A, has a gate to allow overflow into the Hondo River, the Rocky Dam has no gate. The flood waters flowed from the Rocky Dam into the Rocky Dam Arroyo and to a third floodwater diversion point, a berm about 1.25 miles west of the city. When the berm failed, the water rushed into the southern part of town, flooding parts of the Roswell Air Center as well as residences and businesses. Streets were closed as the water continued to flow into the area for days.

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The heavy rains are also believed to have caused a lake or draw on private land southwest of Roswell to flood the Orchard Park area, damaging homes and roads there.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham declared a state of emergency in early June due to the flooding.

Heavy rains also fell on June 28, with 2.1 inches recorded at the RAC. July 11 saw 1.46 inches of rain.

Those storms gave May and June the highest rain totals for the year, with 5.14 inches at the Air Center in May and 5.08 inches in June.

July saw 2.65 inches of rain and September had 1.16 inches.

Other than a trace of rain on Nov. 2, the last measurable rain fell in Roswell on Oct. 1, when 0.14 inches of rain fell, comprising the total for the entire month.

For the year, however, Roswell has had a total of 15.72 inches, which is 4.24 inches above the yearly normal of 11.48 inches, according to NWS data.

Even though the area is ahead on rainfall, the U.S. Drought Monitor classifies Chaves County in severe to moderate drought as of Dec. 23.

The Drought Monitor is a collaboration of the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

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