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Published August 22, 2012
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Temperatures during the water year, which began Oct. 1, continue to depend on elevation. The coldest conditions have been at the highest elevations in both Arizona and New Mexico. The southwest deserts of Arizona, the lower Colorado River valley, and the southern border of New Mexico have been the warmest (Figure 1a). The winter storms that have tracked through the Southwest generally have passed over the northern portions of both states, and many storms have missed Arizona and New Mexico altogether. With few exceptions, Arizona was within 1 degree Fahrenheit of average statewide (Figure 1b). On the other hand, the highest departures from average temperatures have been in eastern New Mexico and only isolated locations have been colder-than-average (Figure 1b). Virtually no storms, dry or wet, crossed eastern New Mexico, which contributed to above-average temperatures in this region. The warmer-than-average water year thus far is the result of the La Niña circulation pattern that forced winter storms to pass north of Arizona and New Mexico.
In the past 30 days, the temperature pattern was controlled by the location of the subtropical high over the Southwest. The high pressure over eastern New Mexico pushed moisture and monsoon activity northward through eastern Arizona, leaving eastern New Mexico dry and therefore warmer than average. Northern Arizona was within 2 degrees F of average over the past month, the result of relatively constant thunderstorm activity. The southwest part of the state had a few days of activity in late July, but has been dry during most of August (Figures 1c–d).
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.Water year is more commonly used in association with precipitation; water year temperature can be used to measure the temperatures associated with the hydrological activity during the water year.
Average refers to the arithmetic mean of annual data from 1971–2000. Departure from average temperature is calculated by subtracting current data from the average. The result can be positive or negative.
The continuous color maps (Figures 1a, 1b, 1c) are derived by taking measurements at individual meteorological stations and mathematically interpolating (estimating) values between known data points. The dots in Figure 1d show data values for individual stations. Interpolation procedures can cause aberrant values in data-sparse regions.
These are experimental products from the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
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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