Eastern, southern New Mexico evade flooding but still get heavy showers



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ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico — Parts of eastern and southern New Mexico avoided serious flooding this weekend but still received a pretty good soaking from heavy rains, forecasters said Sunday.

The National Weather Service said as much as 5 inches of rain has fallen since Thursday in the Guadalupe Mountains and in other parts of the region.

"Generally, there was just broadly 2 to 4-inch amounts with isolated 5-inch amounts," said meteorologist David Hennig, who is based in the National Weather Service's Midland/Odessa, Texas office. "For an area that's petty dry, (getting) 2-5 inches is getting pretty good rain."

He said between 2 and 4 inches of rain also fell in the last few days in eastern Eddy County. Meanwhile, Lincoln and Curry counties have also received more than an inch of rain.

A flash flood watch was issued Friday and has since expired. Only minor flooding has been reported on some roads in Carlsbad, Hennig said. The only significant effect seen was drivers having to slow down or bypass impassable roads, he added.

Some events in Carlsbad including a weekly Saturday farmers' market had to be canceled, the Carlsbad Current-Argus reported.

Forecasters predict a 30 percent chance of rain Sunday in the eastern and southern regions with shower activity tapering off into the week. However, the central and western parts of the state could receive some rain activity on Monday thanks to moisture from Hurricane Norbert.

The hurricane, which was downgraded to a tropical storm, damaged more than 1,000 homes off of Mexico's Baja California peninsula Sunday. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the storm was likely to fade as it bends toward the coast of the peninsula by midweek, bringing more heavy rains to the Baja desert and to the U.S. Southwest.

According to the National Weather Service, the rain in eastern New Mexico over the past few days stems mostly from remnants of a tropical storm system from the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Norbert was only a slight contributing factor, Hennig said.

The recent rains have helped ease the burden of the severe drought New Mexico has been dealing with for the past four years.

A map released Thursday by federal forecasters shows two spots in the southeastern part of the state are drought-free. The areas represent more than 2 percent of the state. It has been more than two years since an area that large or larger had no drought conditions. More than one-third of New Mexico was dealing with extreme to exceptional drought three months ago. Now, that figure is down to just over 7 percent.

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