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Central New Mexico Climate

Many who haven't been to New Mexico think that it's primarly comprised of desert and is too hot to be enjoyable in the summertime. New Mexico is a a big state with diverse climate and landscape. The high desert weather in Central New Mexico is one of the first things that new residents in the area fall in love with. The statistic that is often quoted is that Albuquerque sees sun on about 350 days of the year!

Winter (approximately November-March) in our area can be rather mild. But, like anywhere else, you can be surprised by a few days or weeks of abnormally cold weather. In Albuquerque these days it's not very common for snow to stick around on the ground for more than a day. In Moriarty that snow might stay around for a week. Or, we might go several months without even seeing much snow accumulation at all. Moriarty and the Estancia Valley are at a higher elevation than Albuquerque and both areas are affected differently by the Sandia Mountain chain which separates them. Winter is especially nice if you visit on one of the 350 sunny days because at our elevation, 40 degrees F combined with intense sun feels MUCH more comfortable than, say, Washington DC at 40 degrees F. Typically during the winter the higher elevations collect alot of snow. Within a day trip of Moriarty there are several very nice ski areas.

Spring (approximately March-May) in New Mexico is hit-and miss. We cannot hide the fact that we get very strong winds in the spring. It's largely due to the general shift in the location of the jetstream from north of us to south of us. Also, springtime heating begins to cause our wonderfully tall thermals. When those tall thermals cause mixing in the atmosphere as the day warms, you begin to feel almost the full force of the jetstream in your face! Surface winds of 30-40kt (or more) are not uncommon on a nice sunny day. Sometimes those winds are too high for glider operations. If a pilot can get off the ground, then you can easily fly to Kansas in thermals that are 8-9 thousand feet high above the ground (one-way, of course). On sunny days that are not windy, we find the first several good cross country soaring days at Moriarty. Usually there is a good handful of 300km thermal flights by the end of March.

Summer (approximately May-September) is SOARING SEASON. Usually by about the middle of May the winds have gone away and left only the thermals. May and June are favorite months at Moriarty because the soaring is consistently great and the chances of problems with thunderstorms are lower. By July, the humidity picks up a bit as monsoonal moisture enters the region and afternoon overdevelopment and thunderstorms are more of an issue. Monsoon season continues into September. When the monsoon is really going regularly, you can almost set your watch by the first sightings of rain in the early afternoon. Even with the monsoon, there can still be alot of great soaring. You'll need to learn how to pay attention to thunderstorm development and anticipate your route home, though. Summer is always nice in the high desert due to highs usually only peaking right above 90F and dropping all the way into the 50's and 60's at night.

Autumn (approximately September-November) is absolutely beautiful in New Mexico. The temperatures are comfortable and there is little rain. By middle September the aspen and maple are turning color in the mountains. Some of the most enjoyable soaring days have been flown in September. By October the days for reliable thermals decrease and usually we get a few nice wave days. By November everyone is thinking about wave. Late autumn and winter are still good for getting the plane out on a warm day and practicing 'midwest soaring' in 2 kt thermals that only go to 3-4k above the ground.

Click here for a very nice summary of climate in New Mexico for 2005.

This page last updated on: Nov 07 2007