From drought to flood, 2013 weather reigned

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El Defensor Chieftain offers a look at some of the highlights of 2013. The past year has seen growth and controversy in the counties. The new year promises more positive advancement. Review stories can be found on Pages 5 and 8. Starting on Page 9, find some of the year’s sports highlights.

Susann Mikkelson/El Defensor Chieftain: Late July and August rainfall brought flooding to Catron County. Pictured here is overflow from the Largo Creek just west of Quemado, on Hwy. 32. Standing water almost covers the livestock fencing in the drain under the highway.

The weather in Socorro County and around the state proved frustrating and even life changing in 2013.

The year started with severe drought conditions that morphed into severe storms and record flooding, and New Mexicans rolled with the punches.

During first half of the 2013, drought caused irrigation curtailments and fireworks bans.

In late July the tables turned, and water became a problem.

Socorro County saw $1.2 million in damage sustained by storms in late July, including the loss of the county annex roof torn off by a wind gust.

On Sept. 10 the Socorro County Commission approved a disaster declaration for the period of July 23-28. A news release posted Sept. 30 to the Federal Emergency Management Agency website announced President Barack Obama had issued a federal disaster declaration for all of New Mexico for July’s storms.

In September, floods took homes and lives in the state. The small Socorro County village of San Francisco near Bernardo saw stranded residents and ruined homes.

In Catron County residents were also left stranded, and 83-year-old Howard Bassett from Mogollon lost his life, apparently after having attempted to beat the flooding by driving down the mountain. His body was found several days after his truck was spotted down a drainage ditch near Mogollon.

Socorro County received “better than 50 to 60 percent of an average year’s precipitation in five days (in September),” according to National Weather Service meteorologist Kerry Jones.

A Sept. 24 Socorro County Commission declaration covered the Sept. 9-19 deluge, which county Manager Delilah Walsh said was a time of extensive rain damage to roads, cattle guards and irrigation ditches in the county.

Septembers’s week-long rain event cost the county over $800,000 in damage to roads and other infrastructure, according to Socorro County Emergency Coordinator Jerry Wheeler.

Marty Greenwood, county road department superintendent, said between the rains in July and those in September, the county is probably looking at over $2 million in damage to roads.