Counties with the worst droughts in New Mexico

Written by:
August 23, 2023
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Counties with the worst droughts in New Mexico

Nearly one-third of the continental U.S. is currently experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Parts of the West are currently experiencing a brief reprieve from its driest period of the last 1,200 years, but conditions are worsening in the Northwest and Southwest.

In periods of drought, levels of major reservoirs and rivers can fall dramatically. Groundwater systems too feel the effects, and shrinking water supplies impact agriculture, hydropower generation, and wildfire risk.

Periods of drought have intensified and become more frequent in recent years due to climate change. Scientists predict that even in low emissions scenarios, much of the U.S. will be drier by the end of the century.

Stacker cited data from U.S. Drought Monitor to identify the counties in New Mexico with the worst droughts in the week leading up to August 21, 2023. Counties are listed in order of percent of the area in drought conditions. Abnormally dry is not considered to be a drought, but is included as a separate data point. Additional data for the state overall is included. Any counties which are not experiencing drought are not included in the slideshow. Counties are listed in order of drought severity, but the list does not necessarily include every county in New Mexico which is experiencing drought.

New Mexico statistics

- Abnormally dry: 29.9%
- Area in drought: 65.4% (#7 nationally)
--- Moderate drought: 47.5%
--- Severe drought: 14.9%
--- Extreme drought: 3.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Cibola County

- Abnormally dry: 37.7%
- Area in drought: 51.9%
--- Moderate drought: 51.8%
--- Severe drought: 0.1%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Rio Arriba County

- Abnormally dry: 36.0%
- Area in drought: 64.0%
--- Moderate drought: 54.2%
--- Severe drought: 9.8%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

McKinley County

- Abnormally dry: 20.8%
- Area in drought: 79.2%
--- Moderate drought: 48.0%
--- Severe drought: 31.1%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

San Juan County

- Abnormally dry: 13.8%
- Area in drought: 86.2%
--- Moderate drought: 73.9%
--- Severe drought: 12.3%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Lincoln County

- Abnormally dry: 10.6%
- Area in drought: 89.4%
--- Moderate drought: 75.3%
--- Severe drought: 14.1%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Lea County

- Abnormally dry: 4.2%
- Area in drought: 95.8%
--- Moderate drought: 15.1%
--- Severe drought: 80.7%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Sierra County

- Abnormally dry: 1.8%
- Area in drought: 98.2%
--- Moderate drought: 88.0%
--- Severe drought: 10.2%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Chaves County

- Abnormally dry: 1.5%
- Area in drought: 98.5%
--- Moderate drought: 39.5%
--- Severe drought: 43.9%
--- Extreme drought: 15.1%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Sandoval County

- Abnormally dry: 0.8%
- Area in drought: 99.2%
--- Moderate drought: 68.4%
--- Severe drought: 30.9%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Luna County

- Abnormally dry: 0.0%
- Area in drought: 100.0%
--- Moderate drought: 67.2%
--- Severe drought: 32.8%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Dona Ana County

- Abnormally dry: 0.0%
- Area in drought: 100.0%
--- Moderate drought: 44.5%
--- Severe drought: 55.5%
--- Extreme drought: 0.0%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Otero County

- Abnormally dry: 0.0%
- Area in drought: 100.0%
--- Moderate drought: 68.1%
--- Severe drought: 31.2%
--- Extreme drought: 0.7%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

Eddy County

- Abnormally dry: 0.0%
- Area in drought: 100.0%
--- Moderate drought: 0.0%
--- Severe drought: 36.3%
--- Extreme drought: 63.7%
--- Exceptional drought: 0.0%

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