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Published August 22, 2012
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Most of the Southwest has been drier than average since the water year began Oct. 1 (Figures 2a–b). The pockets of wetter-than-average conditions illustrate how localized the winter precipitation was this past year. Very few storms moved through the region, and those that did produced significant precipitation over relatively small areas. Both the paucity of storms and the high variability in the precipitation are characteristic of La Niña patterns in the Southwest. Northwestern New Mexico, western Pima County, and central Mohave County in Arizona benefitted from a few of those wet storms, while the rest of the Southwest remained warm and dry. So far, the 2012 monsoon activity has not compensated for the dry winter.
In the past 30 days, the monsoon continued to track across the western border of Arizona, leaving much of New Mexico extremely dry, with less than 25 percent of average precipitation (Figures 2c–d). Activity along the Mogollon Rim and other higher elevation locations has been slightly wetter than average, while northwestern New Mexico and the southwest deserts of Arizona have been hot and dry. It remains to be seen if the monsoon will kick in in those parched regions before the summer rainy season ends at the end of September, or if it will continue to fail to deliver adequate rain for large areas of the Southwest.Notes:
The water year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year. As of October 1, 2011, we are in the 2012 water year. The water year is a more hydrologically sound measure of climate and hydrological activity than is the standard calendar year.
Average refers to the arithmetic mean of annual data from 1971–2000. Percent of average precipitation is calculated by taking the ratio of current to average precipitation and multiplying by 100.
The continuous color maps (Figures 2a, 2c) are derived by taking measurements at individual meteorological stations and mathematically interpolating (estimating) values between known data points. Interpolation procedures can cause aberrant values in data-sparse regions.
The dots in Figures 2b and 2d show data values for individual meteorological stations.
Southwest Climate Outlook Staff
- Michael Crimmins, UA Extension Specialist
- Stephanie Doster, Institute of the Environment Editor
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, Managing Editor, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Dollin, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
- Dave Dubious, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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