Farmers and ranchers all across New Mexico agree that substantial rainfall since late August has been instrumental in lowering the state's drought status and in some cases has helped to raise river, lake and reservoir levels, and spawning hope for better irrigation allotments once spring planting is complete and the 2014 growing season is underway.

But climatologists and agricultural officials warn that in spite of above average rains in September and so far in October, the entire Southwest remains in either dry or drought conditions.

A preliminary winter forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration in late September called for warmer-than-average temperatures and below-average precipitation this winter. But NOAA admitted their forecast did not include the latest models because of the 16-day government shutdown that ended just last week. Officials hope to update winter predictions by early November.

But a couple of private weather companies recently released winter predictions for Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, and at least one of those calls for heavy snowfalls across the Rockies and deep into the Sangre de Cristos and other southern New Mexican ranges in the weeks ahead and again into the winter months.

 

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Private weather company Accuweather.com released the latest winter forecast early last week and predicts a wetter and cooler season for parts of New Mexico, in stark contrast to the government's earlier preliminary predictions.

"There is a chance heavy rain and snow and cooler temperatures will prevail in parts of Colorado and New Mexico in October, but we could begin to see a drop in precipitation in November. But with a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) in late December and well into January and perhaps February, there is a chance we could see heavy snows for large parts of the Southwest and in the Mountainous West on and off again throughout the winter season," reported Accuweather Winter Prediction Meteorologist Paul Pastelock.