By Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2021

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Forecasters with the National Weather Service say a potent storm headed toward New Mexico could bring some much needed moisture to the drought-stricken state.

They issued an advisory Thursday, saying the storm is expected to move across the state beginning Saturday and will reach the eastern plains Sunday.

Significant snow accumulations are expected to affect travel and could cause delays late Saturday in the northern mountains, where a few inches up to a foot of snow could fall. The eastern plains could see several inches.

More than 80% of the state is dealing with the two worst categories of drought. The latest map released Thursday shows conditions are far worse than they were just one year ago, when only half the state was grappling with less severe dryness and drought.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s statistics service reported this week that with little to no improvement in the precipitation received last month, soil moisture levels continued to drop. That has forced ranchers to bring in supplemental feed for their livestock. With hay supplies limited and stock water sources depleted, officials said ranchers across the state were culling their herds.

Reports from several counties noted that the wheat crop also was suffering due to the lack of moisture. In Union County, producers couldn’t irrigate their fields enough, prompting fears that the crops wouldn’t survive without more snow or rain.

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