According to the National Weather Service, 2020 tied with the second warmest and fourth driest year on record. As we go into this season with deepened drought conditions, let’s discuss last year’s weather events.

Water usage is affected by various factors including weather conditions and events. Water usage is also intimately interconnected with the day-to-day decisions each of us makes when using our most precious resource in the southwest. While we can’t control the weather or unexpected events, we can all make a difference by looking for simple ways to be more water savvy at home. Consistently checking for leaks and replacing indoor and outdoor fixtures with a water sense label is a good place to start. And, you can sign up for one of our new classes that will teach you how to service your irrigation system and how much to water your plants. 

Information extracted from two reports produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); 1) “Assessing the U.S. Climate in 2020” and 2) “2020 NM Annual Weather Highlights”.


Mean temp departures
  • In 2020 the statewide average temperature was well above normal (by 3.2 degrees), and by end of the year, the state drought conditions ranged from severe to exceptional intensity.
  • Here in Albuquerque, the temperature tied the fifth warmest year on record, and by mid-October, Bernalillo County entered into a drought advisory.
  • According to the report published by National Centers for Environmental Information, titled “Assessing the U.S. Climate in 2020″, the U.S. has had five warmest record years since 2012.
  • It was also the most active wildfire year on record across the west. Five of the six largest fires in California history, and the three largest fires on record in Colorado, occurred during 2020.

We are starting the season with intensified drought conditions and with that our customer outdoor demand is likely to increase.


total precipitation percentiles
  • Average precipitation for New Mexico was 5.57 inches below the normal average of 13.99 inches per year. This makes it the fourth driest year recorded.
  • In Albuquerque, the range of rainfall by zip code is between 8-12 inches per year and the average precipitation was 50% below normal in 2020. Recorded precipitation for the Albuquerque airport was 5.88 inches ranking 2020 as the 23rd driest in 128 years and the driest in the last 10 years.
  • Our neighboring states, Nevada and Utah, ranked the driest on record for 2020.

This winter season was between 30% and 50% drier than normal, and the spring season outlook seems dry. To assure you are watering efficiently all season make sure to follow our seasonal watering recommendations

Author: Carlos A. Bustos, Water Conservation Program Manager with the Water Resources Division for the Water Authority.  Resources: 2020 Weather Highlights extracted from the National Weather Service reports: and Have a question about the article?