By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
Recent rainfall has added significantly to season totals at Conchas Lake and in some parts of Quay County, but not so much in others, according to sources.
A Sunday storm poured 2-1/2 inches of rain and pea-size hail, propelled by wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour on the Tucumcari area Sunday afternoon, according to Meteorologist Jason Frazier of the National Weather Service, Albuquerque.
Customers of the Arch Hurley Conservancy District, however, reported rain gauge readings of up to 4-1/2 inches in Sunday’s storm, District Manager Franklin McCasland said.
Just east of the city, however, the New Mexico State University Agricultural Experiment Station’s rain gauge recorded only a half-inch accumulation on Sunday, Leonard Lauriault, the station’s superintendent said.
Sunday’s storm in Tucumcari flooded roads, but police said they heard only minor complaints of damage or incidents related to the rain.
On Monday, more rain fell on parts of Quay County, but left no more than .32 inches, according to Annette Morky, an NWS lead forecaster in Albuquerque.
At the parched and drained Conchas Lake, the weather news of Sunday and Monday was nothing but good, according to Steve Peterson of Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the Conchas Lake Dam.
Rain gauges at the dam reported 3.13 inches on Sunday and 1.11 inches on Monday. Sunday’s rainfall more than doubled the 2.84 inches of rain recorded for the month of June, Peterson said, making the month’s total just short of six inches for Conchas Lake (Monday’s rain applies to July).
Even better, Peterson said, local storms, plus runoff from more storms upstream along the Canadian River, had raised the lake’s level by three feet from Sunday to Tuesday.
Until the recent storms, the lake had been drained to about 18 percent of its volume when full, previous reports said, and its level was about 51 feet below the Conchas dam’s floodgates.
Since the Sunday storm missed the NMSU agricultural station, Lauriault said, it did not add impressively to June’s total rainfall recorded there. The June total was a pretty dismal 1.13 inches he said. In the past five years, he said, June rainfall has ranged from 0.18 inches in 2011 to 2.04 inches in 2008.