Weather stations in New Mexico tend to be located at airports, which leaves some rural parts of the state without good weather monitoring. That impacts agricultural producers who need weather data to apply for federal disaster relief through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies.
House Bill 108, sponsored by Rep. Martin Zamora, R-Clovis, and Rep. James Townsend, R-Artesia, would change that by appropriating $2.578 million from the state’s general fund to New Mexico State University. This would allow the office of the state climatologist to expand the network of weather stations throughout the state.
The House Agriculture, Acequias and Water Resources Committee unanimously gave the bill a do pass recommendation on Thursday. It now moves to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.
State Climatologist David DuBois said the weather stations will help inform better decision making, especially in light of the ongoing drought conditions.
DuBois said that, as of Thursday morning, the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that 97 percent of New Mexico is in drought and more than 2 percent of the state is experiencing exceptional drought, the most severe category on the monitor. He said the U.S. Drought Monitor is key to a lot of the federal Farm Bill programs.
“In order to make these decisions and track those kinds of drought levels, we really need the best information we can and that’s what this bill provides the funding for is to get more information from the field and to areas that are not covered,” DuBois said.
He said the information from the weather stations will also help emergency managers prepare for storms.
The funding will allow for an estimated 118 new weather stations, bringing the total number of weather stations in New Mexico to 215.