Difficult Driving Conditions in Jemez Area

New Mexico Roads warns of difficult driving conditions on US 550, mile marker 30-35 ( north of San Ysidro). Roads are icy. Visibility is limited due to light snow. Please drive with caution and obey all posted traffic signs. This event will be updated as conditions change.

The icy roads on this stretch, mile markers 30-40 (north of San Ysidro), have led to multiple crashes.  As mentioned above, roads in this area are icy and visibility is limited due to light snow. Drivers are warned to watch for emergency response vehicles and snow plows and to reduce speed.

Difficult Driving Conditions are also occurring on NM 4, between mile markers 24-46 (from just above Jemez Springs to the Los Alamos County Line) – Roads are snow packed and icy. Visibility is limited due to light snow. Please drive with caution and obey all posted traffic signs.

Look at December 2017 in the Red Rocks

Photos R.W.

Last day this year for these asters and datura?

It feels like a front coming through today. Fierce winds are rattling whatever’s been left out to rattle and forecasts call for temperatures to drop to seasonable levels, or perhaps below, over the next few days. No more flowering gardens with bees and butterflies buzzing in still, warm air. It’s been nice while it lasted.

I realize, of course, that that Red Rocks (aka Banana Belt) has a somewhat different climate than some other parts of the Jemez and nearby areas, and that many folks have had their first frost a long time ago, but here is a sad farewell to a long flowering season from down our way.

This visitor dropped by yesterday.

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Still Abuzz, After All These Months

Photos R.W.

I know, official winter doesn’t begin for well over a month yet, and most folks in the Jemez have already had their first season-closing freeze and are all set for their long dark chill ’till late March, early April, while here, we nestled up in the warm glow of red earth and red rocks you see no smoke rising from our chimneys,  it’s still Summer, late Summer perhaps, no decent banana crop ’till climate change gets a good hold, but the air dense with more bugs than through all the past months of this year, doing what they do with their loads of pollen buzzing from flower to flower and birds gasping for a sip from the bowl of fresh well water provided for their comfort in this bit of a drought, drought lite, but growing, sharing it with the odd chipmunk, rabbit, even the occasional lizard or the neighbor’s cat.

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Real Chill Creeping In

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but snow already? Well, perhaps not in the lower reaches of the Jemez Valley, but up and above 9,000 feet and in the frigid heights of places like the Sangre de Cristos and Raton Pass, where up to 5 inches are possible.

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Flash Flood Warning is Back

Well, it is pouring.

The National Weather Service has had a flash flood warning up since yesterday, and it extends until midnight tonight. This is a warning, one notch below a “watch”, but they speak of widespread storms tonight through Thursday evening. Recent rainfall has left soils very moist, increasing the threat for  flash flooding. Additional rainfall of 1-2 inches is likely with locally higher amounts of up to 4 inches are possible through Thursday evening.

The NWS report goes on to say that locations where the ground is already saturated from recent rainfall will be especially susceptible to flash flooding. Other vulnerable locations will include steep terrain, urban areas and burn scars. Keep a watchful eye on arroyos and small streams, and stay out of flooded low water crossings. While mainstem river flooding is not expected, rapid rises on area rivers is possible.



Flash Flood Watch for the Jemez

Starting this afternoon all the way through Sunday night the National Weather Service has announced a  flash flood watch for large parts of New Mexico, including the Jemez. They tell us that a few strong storms are possible across western New Mexico this afternoon and evening. Torrential downpours and small hail are the primary threats. Minor flooding is possible due to heavy downpours over already saturated soils.

Both localized and distant heavy rainfall will create dangerous flows in arroyos and over low water crossings. Do not attempt to drive through these waters. Water in arroyos may travel many miles and take hours to reach your location from upstream rain areas.

In many locations the ground is already saturated from 2 days of moderate to heavy rainfall, so even moderate rain amounts in a short period of time could lead to flash flooding.  Other vulnerable locations will include steep terrain, urban areas and burn scars. Keep a watchful eye on arroyos and small streams, and stay out of flooded low water crossings.

Drier air will arrive from the west and southwest on Saturday evening decreasing the risk of flash flooding.


Peggy Fire Versus Flash Flood

By R.W.

It’s all happening out there if you believe weather forecasts and forest fire updates. What’s there to not believe as we sniff little wafts of smoke in our bedrooms and strain to hear rain pattering on our roofs.

It is quite clear though, that this is a cruel world where some get soaked time and time again, while others stay gasping in the dust. These monsoon-like events are so unevenly distributed where some of us sadly return home with vehicles still dripping from the shower we struggled through with our wipers maxing out on fast to be greeted by a dust devil in the driveway.Continue reading

Smoke and Bird Updates

Photos R.W.

A brief smoke event with the wind travelling in the same direction as yesterday, but much less fierce, and picking up much less smoke. The Forest Service update tells us that the affected area has grown to 256 acres.

They also include an interesting explanation for yesterday’s photogenic event: “Fire activity was low to moderate throughout the day Saturday until about 5:30 p.m. when a storm cell brought much stronger winds out of the north, drastically increasing fire activity and pushing the fire to the south. The winds also helped create the very visible smoke column in the late afternoon. The blacklining that crews had worked on over the past several days held the fire in spite of the dramatic shift in wind direction and speed. Today, crews on scene continued to blackline the perimeter and look for spot fires. ”

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Flash Flood Watch from Now Until 9 p.m. on Saturday


The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for a portion of north and central New Mexico including the Jemez. Slow moving thunderstorms are likely to dump up to 2 inches of rain with locally higher numbers possible, where storms revisit the same area. This could lead to localized flash flooding. Small hail and wind gusts to near 50 mph are possible with the stronger storms.

Locally heavy rainfall potential will increase and become more widespread late Sunday into Monday.


Photo R.W. 

Looking west toward Guadalupe/Gilman Valley a fair amount of smoke rising in the air. It decreased as the evening went by, and there was no mention of it on any of the National Forest pages. And now just before 8:30 p.m., a few lonely little drops of rain have been observed hurling themselves to the ground, leaving, for a brief moment, tiny spots of moisture where they fell . Monsoon 2017 (not really).

Hazardous Weather Outlook for Jemez Area


Update: This forecast was issued at about 2:00 p.m. and is no longer up. Also, the hazardous weather warning has been removed from the regular National Weather Service forecast site.

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather outlook for portions of north and central New Mexico that includes he Jemez area. Doppler radar indicated thunderstorms producing heavy rain along the western portion of the Thompson Ridge burn scar. Up to 1.35 inches of rain has fallen in the last 30 minutes near Sulphur Springs. Flash flooding is expected to begin shortly. This may impact the Thompson Ridge burn scar including but not limited to Sulphur Creek Road, Sulphur Springs, Freelove Canyon, Mormon Canyon, Deer Canyon, Valles Caldera Preserve Headquarters, Redondo Creek, and Redondo Peak area.

Here It Comes

Thunder and lightening, and streams of water pouring down on the Nacimientos as seen from the Red Rocks.

About time.

Ice Blobs Fall on Parched Landscape

Welcome hail from heaven (the penny came from my pocket), followed by a brief shower, followed by an even better shower, brought some relief to the Red Rocks area of the Jemez, which has been missing most of the recent outbursts of rain.

Photo taken at great risk of being beaned by one of those. I hope everyone appreciates my courageous, self-sacrificing photo report.

Red Flag Warning Due to Strong Wind and Low Humidity

Another day, another flag.

The National Weather Service warns that a classic mid June break-down of the upper level ridge pattern is shaping up for today and tomorrow (whatever that means). Humidity is expected to be low and wind speeds high.

The red flag warning started  10 a.m. this morning and will continue  to 9  p.m.  Monday.

The forecast calls for the high pressure to continue to dominate the region today, bringing with it dry, windy, and unseasonably warm conditions for most of New Mexico. Temperatures will begin to cool slightly on Tuesday as an upper level weather system moves through. Temperatures are expected to return to above normal by Thursday and remain there through the remainder of the week.

Any kind of outdoor burning is not recommended. There is no moisture in the forecast for the Jemez area over the next few days.

Chilly Flurry

Not really a blizzard, just an odd event this morning, as temperatures dropped with first light until the grey murk twinkled with little snow flurries for a while. It’s all over now, with more and more blue sky and the sun drying the last wet patches on the ground.


A Rare Sight in the Valles Caldera

By R.W.

Image of the East Fork in the Valles Caldera from video by Ranger Christina of the Valles Caldera National Preserve.


Climate change skeptics must rejoice these days, since climate change data is no longer tumbling down upon us together with the early run off from the mountains. We can take the administration’s assertion that it is all a Chinese hoax, accept the New Alternative Truth and welcome the demise of methane, carbon dioxide and other pollutant regulations.

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National Weather Service Issues Winter Storm Warning for Today


The above represents a maybe/perhaps weather situation up in the high country this Monday. Photo taken some years ago.


Update: Jemez Day School is running on a two hour delay. The Valles Caldera is closed. No other closings or delays have been reported so far. Difficult driving conditions on N.M. Highway 4 from mile marker 19 to 46.

A Winter Storm watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for the Jemez area, lasting from this Sunday evening until 5 p.m. Tuesday. Chances of snowfall over the next couple of days range from 80 to 30 percent. At the lower elevations the temperatures are expected to be high enough for the snow to turn to rain during the daylight hours.

Up in the higher elevations conditions are expected to be severe. The Valle Caldera National Preserve issued this statement:

Main Entrance & Contact Station Closed February 13 Due to Severe Winter Conditions. For the safety of staff and visitors, the main entrance and contact station will be closed Monday, February 13th in anticipation of severe winter weather. The preserve will reopen Tuesday, February 14th at 9 AM if conditions allow.

Updates, including possible school closings, will follow in the morning.