ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Mother Nature has dumped more than 2 feet of snow in two weeks at some of New Mexico’s ski resorts. Schoolchildren have rejoiced at news of canceled classes, and highway workers have had to pull a couple of all-nighters to keep the state’s major roads clear of snow and ice.

And forecasters say there’s more winter moisture on the way.

So what happened to that pesky drought that had New Mexico firmly in its grasp for the past year?

Its grip has been loosened on some parts of the state thanks to a series of recent storms, but forecasters with the National Weather Service say New Mexico is far from being out of the woods.

Meteorologist Ed Polasko summed it up in classical technical terms: “It’s not as droughty as it was before it started raining and snowing.”

In a more serious tone, Polasko explained that New Mexico has a lot of catching up to do after starting the year without any moisture. That was followed up by a dry spring with relentless winds and warm temperatures. The monsoons never really materialized and fall left much to be desired in the moisture department.

Then came December and a flurry of winter storm warnings.

The most recent storm looked impressive as it started to make its way across New Mexico on Monday, with maps showing wide swaths of blue and yellow over much of the state, signifying moisture was on the way.

Predictions showed places like Albuquerque, Socorro and Gallup getting as much precipitation over 72 hours as they would get in an average December.

The predictions were close.

“There was quite a bit of liquid,” said Ken Widelski, a weather service meteorologist who tracked the precipitation totals. “The ski areas were definitely the big winners.”

The back side of the Sandia Mountains, for example, recorded 18 inches. Red River had 14 and Pajarito near Los Alamos followed with 13.5 inches.

It was in fact enough moisture to ease New Mexico’s drought. A map released Thursday by federal officials shows the severity of the drought had lessened in the western half of the state.

Less than 40 percent of the state is now plagued by the two worst categories of drought. That’s a drastic improvement over the summer when it topped out at nearly 80 percent.

If the trend continues, forecasters say, there’s a good chance New Mexico could record near normal precipitation for December. That would mark the first normal month this year.

Still, the southeast corner of the state has been missed by nearly every moisture-producing storm so far this year.

This year has been tough for everyone from backyard gardeners and federal water managers to farmers and ranchers. They see the moisture as a blessing now, but for some, it’s a little too late.

“It’s unfortunate that we didn’t get the moisture at the time when it could help us grow grass and provide for our livestock, but that’s where we’re at,” said Leon Porter, a rancher from central New Mexico. “This could help if the moisture stays in the ground and we don’t have a lot of wind or hot temperatures between now and spring.”