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Published August 22, 2012
Temperature Outlook(September 2012–February 2013)
Data Source(s): NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC)
The seasonal temperature outlook issued by the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (NOAA-CPC) in August for the September–November period calls for slightly increased chances that temperatures will be similar to the warmest 10 years in the 1981–2010 period for eastern Arizona and all of New Mexico (Figure 10a). Recent warming trends during this period influence this forecast. In the three-month seasons that follow, forecasts call for mostly equal chances for above-, below-, or near-average conditions in Arizona and New Mexico, most notably in southern regions of both states (Figures 10b–d). The countervailing effects of El Niño and recent warming trends influenced the forecasts for these seasons. For example, El Niño brings increased chances of below-average temperatures in the Southwest. El Niño events also favor increased precipitation, which contributes to cooler temperatures. On the other hand, recent trends favor warming during these periods. Currently, it is unclear which influence will outweigh the other, leading to an equal chances forecast.
These outlooks predict the likelihood (chance) of above-average, average, and below-average temperature, but not the magnitude of such variation. The numbers on the maps do not refer to degrees of temperature.
The NOAA-CPC outlooks are a 3-category forecast. As a starting point, the 1981–2010 climate record is divided into 3 categories, each with a 33.3 percent chance of occurring (i.e., equal chances, EC). The forecast indicates the likelihood of one of the extremes—above-average (A) or below-average (B)—with a corresponding adjustment to the other extreme category; the “average” category is preserved at 33.3 likelihood, unless the forecast is very strong.
Thus, using the NOAA-CPC temperature outlook, areas with light brown shading display a 33.3–39.9 percent chance of above-average, a 33.3 percent chance of average, and a 26.7–33.3 percent chance of below-average temperature. A shade darker brown indicates a 40.0–50.0 percent chance of above-average, a 33.3 percent chance of average, and a 16.7–26.6 percent chance of below-average temperature, and so on.
Equal Chances (EC) indicates areas where no forecast skill has been demonstrated or there is no clear climate signal; areas labeled EC suggest an equal likelihood of above-average, average, and below-average conditions, as a “default option” when forecast skill is poor.
For more information on CPC forecasts, visit:
For seasonal temperature forecast downscaled to the local scale, visit:
For IRI forecasts, visit:
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.
The CLIMAS Web site contains official and non-official forecasts, as well as other information. While we make every effort to verify this information, please understand that we do not warrant the accuracy of any of these materials.... Read full disclaimer