The University of Arizona

CLIMAS

Craig Rasmussen

Professor
(520) 621-7223
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Craig
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Rasmussen
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Mitch McClaran

The University of Arizona
Professor
(520) 621-1673
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Mitch
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McClaran
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Robert Clark

College of Public Health
University of Arizona
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Robert
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Clark
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Nicholas Schweers

College of Public Health
University of Arizona
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Nicholas
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Schweers
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Quymmun Rabby

College of Public Health
University of Arizona
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Quymmun
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Rabby
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Erika Barrett

College of Public Health
University of Arizona
(520) 626-3507
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Erika
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Barrett
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Southwest Climate Outlook July 2017

Precipitation and Temperature: June precipitation ranged from record driest to near average in Arizona, while in New Mexico, precipitation ranged from much-below to much-above average (Fig. 1a). This difference reflects the seasonal progression of monsoon activity in the Southwest—it typically starts earlier in New Mexico and progresses westward—as well as the relatively late start to monsoon activity observed in much of Arizona this year. June temperatures ranged from much-above average to record warmest in Arizona and from above average to much-above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). A region-wide heat wave that struck in mid-to-late June helped drag up the averages, setting a number of daily high records across Arizona. Year-to-date precipitation ranks reveal average to above-average precipitation in all of New Mexico and much of Arizona, with a pocket of below-average precipitation in southeast Arizona (Fig. 2a). Year-to-date temperatures reveal much-above-average to record-warmest conditions in both Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 2b).

Monsoon Tracker: The official start of the monsoon was June 15, but widespread activity started relatively late this year (see monsoon discussion), especially in southern Arizona. There, numerous storms in mid-July brought widespread and frequent precipitation activity, boosting the percent normal monsoon precipitation in several locations (See Figs. 1a-b on SW Monsoon Tracker). New Mexico had a comparatively earlier start to monsoon activity, which is expected given the typical spatiotemporal progression of the monsoon (Fig. 3), and has seen more steady and widespread monsoon activity, as evidenced by the percent of days with rain (see Figs. 2a-b on SW Monsoon Tracker).

Drought & Water Supply: Drought conditions on the U.S. drought monitor have expanded in the past few weeks, with most of Arizona recording either D0 (abnormally dry) or D1 (moderate drought) conditions. This reflects short-term precipitation deficits in the upper two-thirds of Arizona, as well as short- and long-term deficits in the lower third, a pattern that also extends to the southwestern corner of New Mexico. Most of the rest of New Mexico has no drought designation (Fig. 4).

Wildfire: Arizona is experiencing an active fire season in 2017, with nearly 350,000 acres of wildfire across the state. A number of factors contributed to the increased activity in Arizona this year, including abundant fine fuels, below-average winter precipitation, above-average temperatures, and a later-than-average start to the monsoon and its increased precipitation and relative humidity. New Mexico has had less fire activity, with approximately 123,000 acres burned, largely attributed to the earlier arrival of monsoon conditions.

El Niño Southern Oscillation: Most models and forecasts continue to suggest the most likely outcome for 2017 is ENSO neutral conditions through winter 2017-2018 (50-55 percent chance). The chances of an El Niño event do remain elevated (35-45 percent chance) compared to long-term averages, however, effectively reducing the chance of a La Niña event to near zero.

Precipitation and Temperature Forecast: The July 20 NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for August calls for increased chance of above-average precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico, and equal chances of above- or below -average temperatures in most of Arizona and New Mexico. The three-month outlook for August through October calls for increased chance of above-average precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 5, top). Increased chances of above-normal temperatures are forecast for the entire United States (Fig. 5, bottom).

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JUL2017 @CLIMAS_UA Climate Outlook, ENSO Tracker, Monsoon Tracker, Reservoir vol. http://bit.ly/2uf7Lag #SWclimate #AZWX #NMWX #SWCO
ENSOHUB:  
Not part of ENSO Hub
MONSOONHUB:  
Unrelated to SW Monsoon
DROUGHTHUB:  
Non-Drought Hub Related

Rio Grande-Bravo Outlook June 2017

Forecasts favor above-average temperatures in all of the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin, and above-average precipitation in the southern portion of the Basin, through September.

 

Los pronósticos favorecen las temperaturas por encima de la media en toda la cuenca del Río Grande / Bravo, y precipitaciones por encima de la media en la porción sur de la Cuenca, hasta septiembre.

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PDF File Spanish:  
ENSOHUB:  
Not part of ENSO Hub
MONSOONHUB:  
Unrelated to SW Monsoon
DROUGHTHUB:  
Non-Drought Hub Related

Southwest Climate Outlook June 2017

Precipitation & Temperature: May precipitation was variable across the Southwest, ranging from average to much-above average in Arizona and below to above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1a). Similarly, May temperatures were average to above average across Arizona and ranged from below to above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). Taking a longer view, spring (March-May) precipitation was mostly below average in Arizona, while New Mexico ranged from below average in the southwestern region to above average in the northeast (Fig. 2a). Spring temperatures were much-above average across most of the Southwest (Fig. 2b). So far in June, temperatures have ranged from 0 to 8 degrees above normal across much of Arizona and New Mexico, with extreme heat forecast for the week of June 19. June precipitation has been sparse in most of Arizona, with infrequent storm activity mostly in southern and eastern New Mexico.

Snowpack, Streamflow & Water Supply: While snow is mostly—if not completely—now gone from the Southwest, some Colorado River Upper Basin snow water equivalent (SWE) values remain well-above average (Fig. 3). Above-average temperatures have amplified melting and runoff, leading to impressive streamflow forecasts across much of the West (see last month’s outlook for details) and, in many cases, higher reservoir volumes compared to one year ago.

Drought: The transitional period between cool-season precipitation and the monsoon is one of the driest times of year for the Southwest, but prior to this dry period, seasonal temperature and precipitation patterns had been above and below average, respectively, since mid-January. This led to both short- and long-term drought designations in southern Arizona and the southwestern corner of New Mexico (Fig. 4). Monsoon precipitation can be impressive in its intensity, but these events vary considerably in both their spatial extent and their temporal frequency, therefore they typically do not provide as much drought relief as sustained regional cool-season precipitation.

Wildfire, Environmental Health, & Safety: In the late spring and early summer, warming temperatures, low relative humidity, and sustained and gusting winds all contribute to increased risk of wildfire (Fig. 5). Accordingly, the Southwest has seen higher fire activity over the last month. Many of these fires are lightning-caused, as is common when the emergent monsoon brings convective activity, often in the absence of measurable precipitation. As the monsoon settles in, heavy precipitation events and increased relative humidity help suppress existing fires and reduce seasonal wildfire risk. In fact, the midpoint of the wildfire season follows the seasonal progression of the monsoon (see Monsoon Tracker), and a late start to the monsoon can extend the fire season just as an early start can help shorten it.

El Niño Southern Oscillation: Current forecasts suggest an increased likelihood of ENSO-neutral conditions in 2017 (50-55-percent chance), with a slightly lower chance of an El Niño event (35-50 percent chance) during the same period (see ENSO Tracker for details).

Precipitation & Temperature Forecast: The June 15 NOAA Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for July calls for equal chances of above or below average precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico, and increased chances of above average temperatures across the Southwest. The three-month outlook for July through September calls for equal chances of above or below average precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 6, top). Increased chances of above normal temperatures are forecast for the entire southwestern region (Fig. 6, bottom).

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ENSOHUB:  
Not part of ENSO Hub
MONSOONHUB:  
Unrelated to SW Monsoon
DROUGHTHUB:  
Non-Drought Hub Related

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