Monterey County Farm Bureau

Drought Monitor

Conditions were nearly identical those observed the previous week, with beneficial precipitation falling across the northern tier of the region and windy, dry weather dominating the Southwest. Given the Southwest’s low humidity levels, high winds, and drought-cured vegetation, two active wildfires—the Hermits Peak and Cooks Peak Fires—charred more than 50,000 acres of vegetation apiece in northeastern New Mexico. Northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona, the Tunnel Fire—ignited on April 17—scorched nearly 20,000 acres of vegetation and destroyed more than 50 structures. At times, impressively high winds raked the Southwest, raising dust and fanning flames. On April 22 in New Mexico, wind gusts in Gallup, Farmington, Las Vegas, and Raton were clocked to 70, 72, 73, and 80 mph, respectively. By April 24, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, New Mexico led the nation—tied with Texas—with topsoil moisture rated 86% very short to short. By the 26th, Tucson, Arizona, reported a daily-record high of 100°F—only the fourteenth observance of triple-digit heat on record during April in that location. Tucson’s only earlier readings of 100°F or higher occurred on April 19-21, 1989, and April 22-23, 2012. Deterioration was common across the Southwest, with extreme to exceptional drought (D3 to D4) broadly expanding in New Mexico and moderate to severe drought (D1 to D2) increasing in coverage across parts of Arizona and Colorado. Farther north, however, periods of precipitation continued from northern California and the Pacific Northwest to the northern Rockies. Changes in the Northwestern drought depiction, although fewer than those noted the previous week, were driven by factors such as improving water-supply prospects and increasing topsoil moisture. In Oregon, topsoil moisture rated very short to short improved from 47 to 36% during the week ending April 24.

As a comparison, below is the Drought Monitor Map from the high-point of the four-year drought:

Updated 5/2/2022