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Published December 19, 2011
Precipitation(data through 12/14/11)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Precipitation in the Southwest since the water year began on October 1 generally has been above 70 percent of average, with many areas receiving copious rain and snow (Figures 2a–b). In northwestern New Mexico, for example, precipitation has been more than 300 percent of average. It has been more than 150 percent of average in parts of southwest New Mexico, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of north-central New Mexico, and along the western border of Arizona. A small swath of slightly wetter-than-average conditions also is located in central Arizona, including parts of Pima, Pinal, Maricopa, Gila, Yavapai, and Coconino counties. The driest areas have been in southeastern New Mexico, where less than 70 percent of average precipitation has fallen since October 1.
In the past 30 days, several winter storms that tapped subtropical moisture moved across Southern California and into Arizona and New Mexico. They also entrained cold polar air that lowered snow lines, prompting Arizona’s ski resorts to open. Many parts of Arizona and New Mexico experienced 150 percent of average precipitation during this period. Only the northwest corner of Arizona, the Colorado Plateau of northern Arizona, and northwestern New Mexico experienced drier-than-average precipitation, amounting to 5–75 percent of average (Figures 2c–d). An isolated spot in northeastern New Mexico received less than 50 percent of average precipitation. The circulation pattern that has brought these storms may soon break down and give way to high pressure, which will be accompanied by dry conditions. The expectation is that the winter will be drier than average.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.
For these and other precipitation maps, visit:
For National Climatic Data Center monthly precipitation and drought reports for Arizona, New Mexico, and the Southwest region, 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