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Published December 19, 2011
Temperature(data through 12/14/11)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Average temperatures since the water year began on October 1 generally have ranged from 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit on the Colorado Plateau and across the northern two-thirds of New Mexico (Figure 1a). Average temperatures have been 45–55 degrees F in southern New Mexico; 55–70 degrees F in southwestern Arizona, and 30–35 degrees F in the highest elevations in northern New Mexico. These temperatures have been within 2 degrees F of the 30 year average across most of Arizona (Figure 1b). Central and southern Arizona have been slightly cooler than average, while south-central Arizona and the northeastern corner have been warmer than average. The southeastern quarter of New Mexico has been 0–3 degrees F warmer than average, while the rest of the state has been 0–4 degrees F cooler than average.
The past 30 days have been 0–4 degrees F colder than average across most of both southwestern states. The only areas with warmer-than-average temperatures have been around the southern border of Arizona and New Mexico, northwestern Arizona, and the Four Corners region (Figures 1c–d). Parts of the high elevation areas in northern New Mexico and Pima County in southern Arizona have been 4–6 degrees F colder than average. The recent chilly temperatures are attributed to several unusually cold winter storms that tapped polar air as they wafted south along the West Coast. This is unusual for a La Niña circulation pattern, which tends to push storms north of the region. However, last winter also had numerous cold winter storms through December before conditions dried and warmed in January.
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 Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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