Yes It Has Snowed In May In SE New Mexico Before.
First Alfalfa Cutting Of The Year.
The Netherland Farms South Of Artesia.
Our cool weather of late seems tame compared to what was going on locally 83 years ago! The valleys first alfalfa cuttings are under way along with some winter wheat. What is badly needed is a good soaking rain but not like what occurred in May of 1935.
May 1935 NWS Climate Data Records.
Roswell recorded a low temperature of 32ºF on Friday, May 3rd, 1935. Their high temp on Saturday, May 4th was only 39ºF after a morning low of 33ºF. Their low Sunday May 5th was 33ºF. The Climate Co-Op Station recorded a storm total of 1.69" or rainfall over two days and on May 3rd they recorded 0.2" of snowfall with a trace of snowfall falling on the 4th.
Artesia officially recorded .93" from the two day storm. The local newspaper "The Artesia Advocate" noted that the temperature fell to 32ºF on Saturday morning May 4th although the official reading from the Climate Co-Op Station is 34ºF. No snowfall was noted in the climate log or in the newspaper for the immediate Artesia area.
Hope, New Mexico.
Hope recorded a low temperature of 32ºF on Friday, May 3rd. A high of 39ºF and a low of 33ºF on Saturday, May 4th. Their storm total rainfall was 1.70" and they recorded 2.0" of snowfall on Friday, May 3rd. The Artesia Advocate reported that Hope received 1.85" of rainfall...likely from a local resident or farmer.
Carlsbad, New Mexico.
No snowfall was noted in Carlsbad but they recorded a storm total of .86" and a low of 37ºF on May 4th.
Carlsbad Caverns - Whites City, New Mexico.
No snowfall was recorded at the Carlsbad Caverns National Park Visitor Center near Whites City. They did record a two day storm total of 1.14" of rainfall. Their low temperature on Friday, May 3rd was 34ºF. Their high and low temps on Saturday, May 4th was 44ºF/34ºF.
Carson Seep - In The Guadalupe Mountains Southwest Of Carlsbad.
No temperature data is available from this Climate Co-Op Station but they did record a two day rainfall storm total of .83". And 2.5" of snowfall was noted on Saturday, May 4th.
Arabela - North-Northeast Of Hondo, New Mexico.
Arabela sits at the eastern base of the Capitan Mountains north-northeast of Hondo. The Climate Co-Op Station there recorded a two day rainfall storm total of 2.09". They also noted 8.0" of snowfall on Friday, May 3rd and 2.0" on Saturday, May 4th.
Fort Stanton - Northeast Of Ruidoso, New Mexico.
Fort Stanton located just north of the present day Sierra Blanca Regional Airport - northeast of Ruidoso recorded a two day rainfall storm total of 1.04". They also recorded 4.0" of snowfall on Friday, May 3rd. Their high and low temperatures on Friday was 38ºF and 27ºF. On Saturday, May 4th they recorded a high and low of 38ºF and 28ºF.
Capitan, New Mexico.
Capitan recorded a four day rainfall storm total of 1.57". On Friday, May 3rd 0.5" of snowfall fell and 8.0" fell on Saturday, May 4th. Their high and low temperatures on Saturday, May 4th was 36ºF and 26ºF. They also recorded a low of 26ºF on Monday, May 6th. Missing data occurred on the 5th.
Flying H Ranch - North Of Dunken, New Mexico.
The Flying H Ranch located 13 miles north of Dunken (as the crow flies) recorded a two day rainfall storm total of 1.23". Remarkably 10.0" of snowfall was recorded on Friday, May 3rd.
Elk, New Mexico.
The Elk Climate Co-Op Station located east of Mayhill recorded a three day rainfall storm total of 1.90". They also recorded 6.0" of snowfall on Friday, May 3rd and Saturday, May 4th. Their low temperature on Friday, May 3rd was 28ºF. Their high and low temperature on Saturday, May 4th was 33ºF and 28ºF.
White Tail - Southeast Of Ruidoso.
The White Tail Climate Co-Op Station located on the Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation southeast of Ruidoso recorded a two day rainfall storm total of 1.09". They also recorded 8.0" of snowfall on Friday May 3rd, and 2.0" on Saturday, May 4th.
Mayhill Ranger Station.
The Mayhill Ranger Station recorded a two day rainfall storm total of 1.39" and 5.0" of snowfall on Friday, May 3rd.
Cloudcroft, New Mexico.
Cloudcroft recorded a two day rainfall storm total of .88". Friday, May 3rd they received 7.0" of snowfall and 3.0" on Saturday, May 4th. Their high and low temperatures on Saturday, May 4th was 30ºF and 16ºF.
Alamogordo, New Mexico.
Alamogordo recorded .27" of rainfall and a trace of snowfall on Saturday, May 4th.
Screenshots From The Artesia Advocate - May 9th, 1935.
Heavy snow also fell over the Sandia Mountains east of Albuquerque where Sandia Crest recorded 29" from the storm. The Manzano Mountains also received heavy snows with 25" noted.
A Cold Rain & Heavy Snow Ruins Crops & Kills Livestock.
For the better part of my life (nearly 60 years) I've had a number of local people(mostly farmers and ranchers and a few old timers) tell me stories about it snowing in Southeast New Mexico in May. After some research through the National Weather Service Climate Data Archives I finally found out when this occurred. May 3rd and 4th, 1935 to be exact. This is also backed up by the screenshots above from the Artesia Advocate dated May 9th, 1935.
A cold rain with some snow noted in the Pecos Valley was noted generally over a two day period from Friday, May 3rd through Saturday, May 4th, 1935. High temperatures area-wide were in the 30's to near 50ºF. Lows dropped down to freezing or in some cases into the teens and twenties. A dust storm was accompanied by the rain in Lea County with a mixture of rain and dust falling for 2 to 3 hours.
Damage to the cotton crop was noted in the Pecos Valley from the cold heavy rainfall which packed the dirt in around the tender young plants and prevented them from sprouting. Loses to the crop were estimated to be in the 40% to 50% range. Young lambs and calves as well as weaker cattle and sheep suffered and died from the cold, rain, and snow. One local rancher in the Pecos Valley lost 700 lambs near the Pecos River.
Snow was heavy across the Sacramento and Capitan Mountains. The Carson Seep National Weather Service Climate Co-Op Station located southwest of Carlsbad Caverns in the Guadalupe Mountains recorded 2.5" of snowfall out of the storm. No measurable snow was recorded in Carlsbad are Artesia officially. However years ago local farmers and ranchers insisted that it did snow in the Artesia area. I don't doubt this since the Roswell National Weather Service Climate Co-Op Station recorded 0.2" of snowfall on Saturday, May 4th. The Crossroads Climate Co-Op Station located north of Tatum recorded 0.3" of snowfall.
The newspaper article stated that a foot of snow fell in Pinon and the Weed and Sacramento area had 8" to 10". Cloudcroft recorded 10", White Tail 10", Arabela 10", the Flying H Ranch 10", Capitan 8.5", Elk 6", Mayhill 5"-6", Fort Stanton 4", and Hope 2". Flash flooding was noted on the Rio Penasco on Saturday, May 4th.
Remarkable for any month let alone the first week of May.
The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction!