Justin Schatz is The Paper's daily news reporter. He has reported on New Mexico for KRQE News, Searchlight NM and the Santa Fe Reporter.

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According to the National Weather Service, this upcoming winter looks to have above-average temperatures coupled with below-average precipitation. For a region already in the grips of a lingering drought, this could spell another water-strained year for communities along the Rio Grande. 

In an interview with The Paper. National Weather Service Meteorologist Bladen Breitreiter said that, due to the region entering its second La Nina weather cycle, predictions are favoring higher temperatures and below-average precipitation in the next few months. “When we have two La Niñas in a row, generally we see a much drier season,” Breitreiter said. 

The dry winter comes after a prolific monsoon season that eased drought conditions across much of the state. Still, the state and region remain in drought conditions, and this winter looks to offer little reprieve. 

Despite a productive monsoon season, the predicted less-than-favorable conditions for this upcoming winter will do little to build on the moisture from the summer. “We’ll probably see a significant reduction in the snowpack,” Breitreiter said. 

According to the National Weather Service, 2020 was the second warmest winter on record in New Mexico. Average temperatures around the state were 3.2 degrees above normal at 59.2 degrees. Albuquerque experienced its fifth warmest winter on record in 2020. Last year was the fourth driest year on record.

New Mexico officially entered enter La Niña last week. The northern part of the state remains the hardest hit by the drought.