Monday, January 30, 2012 was a bit warmer than the past week with a high of 55 and the evening’s low will be 30 with a west wind of 5 mph. Tuesday, January 31, 2012 will be mostly sunny with a high of 55 and winds between 5 and 10 mph, then a nighttime low of 31. Wednesday and Thursday, February 1 and 2, 2012, will be nearly identical with a high of 53 and Friday, February 3, will be sunny, but the temperature will drop to 46. February 4, 2012, will see a high of 49 with a nighttime low of 24.
This is not exactly gardening weather with the cool temperatures, but it’s still a good time to watch the sunset in New Mexico. One of the most wonderful aspects of living in this area is the spectacular sunsets with gold and scarlet colors to the west and pink, purple, red and orange painting the Sandia Mountains.
Sandia means “watermelon” in Spanish, and the popular, local belief is that the Sandias were named for their watermelon-like appearance when viewed from the west, or Albuquerque. The mountains appear to have green stripes, which are strips of forest filled with conifers. They also take on a pink/red/orange tone at sunset due to large exposures of grandiorite cliffs. The color lasts about five stunning minutes and is worth waiting for in the chilly evening, though it actually appears year-round at sunset.
The Sandia Mountain range is rather small, measuring approximately 17 miles. Its highest mountain is Sandia Peak, which tops off at 9,702 feet. The Sandias are part of the Sandia/Manzano Mountain Range. The Manzanos are south of the Sandias and the two ranges are separated by Tijeras Canyon.
The Sandia Peak Tramway, built in 1966, stretches from the northeast edge of Albuquerque to the crest of the Sandia Mountains and is the world’s third longest tram. The tram can be seen from Albuquerque with binoculars or a camera and is always a fascinating ride. The tram is open year-round, but it is wise to call in advance and check the weather conditions. Temperatures can drop as much as 30 degrees at the top, so dress appropriately.