Friday, February 8, 2013

Winter in New Mexico


There is a misperception by many people that New Mexico is warm in the winter.  A lot of people who have never been here think New Mexico is all desert and cactus.  The truth is that most of New Mexico is at a high elevation and quite mountainous, particularly in the central and northern part of the state.  The lowest point in New Mexico is 2842 ft. above sea level (near the southeast border with Texas).  Our highest point is Wheeler Peak (13,161 ft. above sea level) in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Taos, NM. We are an arid state, for sure.  The scarcity of water is, and has historically been, always our biggest threat.  Whole populations have disappeared over the centuries due to drought, leaving their stone-built pueblos  and carved rock dwellings for future generations to wonder what became of their civilizations.

Gran Quivira Pueblo ruins within the Salinas Mission National Monument
Although we have a large river (Rio Grande) flowing from the north from the Rocky Mountains to the southern border of Mexico, this land is dry and getting drier. The water in the Rio Grande is constantly being diverted for farming, ranching, and drinking water so that it looks like a ditch of brown water in much of the state.  Severe drought conditions continue into this century and the prognosis is that it will only get worse. 

We've experienced a mild winter in New Mexico this year.  Only a few inches of snow have fallen here in the East Mountains (the mountain range just to the east of Albuquerque).  The ski resorts need the snow, we all need the water.

We only got 2-3 inches January 30th and the sun melted it within a day or two 

About 6 inches fell January 1, 2013

At least there was enough for sledding for the grandchildren

Sandia Peak Ski Resort has only opened it's beginners slope this winter
Snow in December, 2012 was minimal
But last winter,  December (2011) looked like this at our house

I remember a big snowstorm in March 2006 (this is from my home in Rio Rancho)
and the snow didn't melt for more than a month.
The lack of snow plows kept our streets icy for weeks.

Our flat roofs got leaks from the snow (melting and freezing repeatedly)

When I moved to Tijeras, New Mexico from San Diego, California
 in March 2005, it was warm and sunny. But a week later, a huge snowstorm hit

We had 3 foot drifts and I couldn't get out of my driveway.
As soon as I could, I bought a used Jeep with 4WD.
My driveway of my Tijeras home

I was "snowbound" for three days...

March 30, 2005 I went to Spence Hot Springs in the Jemez Mountains

It was lovely soaking in the hot springs while snow dropped from the trees
We had a ton of snow the winter of 2010-2011.  It got really cold, dropping to minus 12 degrees F. at my house on February 1, 2011 and much of New Mexico had no heat or electricity.  With today's stories from the Northeastern U.S. about Winter Storm Nemo, I could relate.  This winter, though, we aren't getting much snow or rain at all.

In the winter of 2010-2011, the Sandia Mountains were covered all winter in beautiful fluffy snow...

...and the trees were covered in ice.
My daughter, Amanda visited from California over the holidays 2005-2006.  My Tijeras house was at 7,200 ft. elevation.  She helped me shovel the snow, a new experience for a California girl.

A very New Mexico scene in winter -
this is an adobe ruin in La Madera at the northeastern edge of the Sandia Mountains
Then we hiked the Kasha Katuwe or Tent Rocks Monument near the Pueblo of Cochiti

Some of the unique stone formations at Tent Rocks
In January, 2007, Ron and I spent our 1st wedding anniversary in Taos

Snow, pinon smoke and red chile ristras are all part of a New Mexico winter...
....along with luminarias in the snow on Christmas Eve you walk among the neighborhoods in the chill of the night.

This is the street in front of my house in Sandia Park after a good snowfall.

Last winter dumped a lot more snow at our house (we live at 6900 ft. elevation)
This was sunrise this morning at my house. 
The clouds coming in from the northwest bring the promise of a snow storm this weekend.
We can only hope.

1 comment:

  1. We were caught in several blizzard in recent years on I40 on the way to Arizona to see our sons family. My father had spent some weeks in the early thirties on his way to California and always spoke very highly of The Land of Enchantment. Hopefully our droght and your will end this spring. Great post, Vicki....:)