new Mexico has an area of 121,590 sq. mi. (314,917 sq. km.), with inland water making up 234 sq. mi. (606 sq. km.). New Mexico's average elevation is 5,700 ft. (1,737 m.) above sea level, with a range in elevation from 2,842 ft. (866 m.) above sea level at the Red Bluff Reservoir, to 13,161 ft. (4,011 m.) at Wheeler Peak. New Mexico's topography is varied, including mountains, plateau, basins, and the Great Plains. New Mexico's major river is the Rio Grande, originating in southern Colorado, and flowing southward for through the state (with very low water flow), is used for irrigation. The Continental Divide (the separation mark of the Pacific and Atlantic watersheds) passes north to south through New Mexico. In addition to streams and rivers, small glacial lakes are in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and several large reservoirs store water for irrigation and recreation.
The climate of New Mexico is generally mild, sunny, and dry. Temperatures vary in the different regions of
the state; the annual average temperatures vary as much as 10 degrees F (minus 12 degrees C) from south to north, with the northern mountains cooler. The highest temperature recorded in the state was 122 degrees F (50 degrees C)on June 27, 1994 and the lowest temperature recorded in the state was minus 50 degrees F (minus 45 degrees C) on February 1, 1951. Most of the state has between 10 and 20 in. (25-51 cm.) of annual rainfall. The mountains also have a higher precipitation. Summer thunderstorms provide the larger portion of annual precipitation. Winter precipitation is in the form of mountain snowfall and rain or snow at lower elevations. Cold air masses from Canada may produce blizzards.
The dry climate does not preclude agriculture; commercial farming is more common along the river valleys for irrigation, and in the driest eastern part of the state, dry farming is common. Crops include corn, hay, sorghum, chili peppers, onions, and wheat. Ranching is important to the economy, and grazing rights are provided on National Forest land. The largest aquifer in the world, the Ogallala Aquifer, lies underground beneath eight states, including New Mexico.
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