The Snow Keeps Falling
New Mexico... mountains and high mesas surrounded by great open ranges of high steppes. Open country with views that stretch for miles upon miles.
Snow... something that, aside from our mountain country, mostly belongs in places such as Colorado, Massachusetts, or Maine.
Albuquerque, central New Mexico... in a typical winter only sees snow a few times, and it usually melts within a few hours to a day. A few days before Christmas, we received a half foot of snow and the town came to a crashing halt. Schools, offices, and roads were closed. We're a high desert town. We don't have the equipment, training, or patience to deal with that much stuff. Six inches is about our quota for the season. We figured that we'd had our big snow for the year.
So why is there more than a foot of the white stuff blanketing our yard?
Yep, all you folks from Min-nee-soh-tah, Kennebunkport, the Klondike, and such like places would feel entirely at home today in Albuquerque.
In the meantime, Carol Anne and the cats just 150 miles south in Truth or Consequences (next to Elephant Butte), where there hasn't been any precipitation. Go figure.
On Friday, we went to the marina to fiddle around with Black Magic and measure her tiller for a replacement. Temps were around 40 degrees, with the wind having picked up to around 10+ knots, with a few scattered whitecaps on the lake. We decided not to sail. Tillerman and his ilk would probably think we were a bit wimpy, but we weren't particularly prepared for frostbiting... at least, what passes for frostbiting in the relatively warm southwest. So, instead we had a nice southwestern dinner (Carol Anne and "Tadpole" both had chile rellenos) and called a couple of sailing friends to update them on conditions.
After bringing Carol Anne to the apartment, we packed Tadpole's big string bass (bull fiddle) in the Cavalier (it's an acquired skill) and Tadpole drove us to north of Socorro, where we switched drivers. At that point, we were in snow, which thickened and began to stick to the freeway as we neared Albuquerque, forcing us to eventually slow to half the posted limit. In Albuquerque we found half a foot of snow, with more coming.
This morning's news tells us that yesterday's snow broke a record. I can believe it.
The orchestra rehearsal that we'd come for has been cancelled, but the Eagle Scout board of review that we'll be attending on behalf of a friend of Tadpole's is still on, though rescheduled for a place that's easier for us to reach.
What does all this mean? Well, it's very good news for New Mexico's lakes, which have been struggling to recover from years of drought. It should portend a good sailing season this spring at Elephant Butte Lake in southern New Mexico, along with high-mountain sailing at Heron Lake near the Colorado border.
Lake Conditions as of Saturday, December 30, 2006
Elephant Butte Lake
4,340.54 feet above benchmark elevation, 511,683 acre feet (0800). About 20 square miles of surface.
Up 1.2 inches and 1,314 acre feet in 24 hours.
Up 4.3 inches and 4,726 acre feet in 71 hours.
7,140.91' elev., 183,671 a.f. (1000), at about 46% of capacity.
down 1.4 inches and 448 a.f. in 24 hours; down 4.7 inches and 1,468 a.f in 71 hours.
Elephant Butte Lake is up 4.02 feet and 51,353 a.f. so far in December.
The lake is 8 inches HIGHER than its March 5th high point, and six and a half feet higher at the end of the year than at the beginning of the year.
It has risen 32 feet since the July low.
The Butte will end the year 2006 at something like elev. 4,340.74, with 514,700 a.f. Long Point will likely become an island again later this winter.
Elephant Butte Lake Elev. (feet) . . . . Storage (acre feet) . . . Date
4,340.54 . . . . . . . 511,683 . . . . . . . Dec. 30 (0800)
4,336.52 . . . . . . . 460,330 . . . . . . . Nov. 30
4,331.24 . . . . . . . 397,510 . . . . . . . Oct. 31
4,327.10 . . . . . . . 351,800 . . . . . . . Sept. 30
4,325.18 . . . . . . . 331,550 . . . . . . . Aug. 31
4,308.50 . . . . . . . 183,870 . . . . . . . July 28 low point
4,339.88 . . . . . . . 503,030 . . . . . . . March 5 high point
4,334.06 . . . . . . . 430,410 . . . . . . . January 1, 2006