hat does drought mean ..really in an arid high desert region whereby under ordinary circumstances an Easterner ..for instance might look at this land and say "This isn't a desert".
This isn't a desert, this is a high desert..a different landscape situation.
Maybe I can help, with the value of my now significant experience ..give you an idea of what it's like to have less than the minimum amount of rainfall. See the chart below.
First of all, let me describe what normal would be like. We'd have a nice snow pack in the Rockies, and a melt that would make the Spring washes run ..some like a torrent. We'd have enough rain and even snow in Spring to keep our water collection barrels filled. Once hard downpour does that. We'd have a significant 'monsoon
' where, everyday or nearly ..for a month or more, there'd be thunderstorms in Summer. Our monsoon develops in the Jemez Mountains
..and you can see it developing and coming toward us.
So onto drought!
Last year (2011), there wasn't much snow pack and not much in the way of a melt. Furthermore, it didn't rain a drop from mid January til about July 8th! During this time, much of the high desert vegetation went into dormancy..or stayed in dormancy ..not coming out.
It was so dry that the earth turned to sand, enough so that the harshest critic would have had to admit that this is, indeed desert, albeit high desert. See our mountain bike adventure "Not For Sissies"
to see what we faced. Finally, the forest fires began with the Alpine Fire in Arizona ..that developed to near 1/2 million acres. We had the Pecheco Canyon Wildfire
in the Sangre de Cristos above Santa Fe and near the Ski Basin. Finally ..now the states largest wildfire, the Las Conchas Wildfire
near Los Alamos that developed into about a 1/4 million acres.
As we attempted to escape the smoke, which chokes 100 miles away, to the South of the state ..also there, wildfires began to develop due to the drought and high winds.
Around the 2nd week of July last year, Monsoon began here, assisting the firefighters in putting out the fires. Also..the winds became favorable and the Las Conchas Wildfire was contained.
We remained in a drought situation thru the Winter.