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Published February 23, 2011
New Mexico Drought Status(through 2/15/11)
Data Source(s): New Mexico State Drought Monitoring Committee , U.S. Drought Monitor
Drought conditions continued to expand and intensify across the Southwest over the past 30 days. January was a historically dry month of New Mexico, ranking as the driest January on record, and scant rain and snow fell in the first half of February. The low precipitation in southern New Mexico during January, which is usually a wet month, caused the region to slip from moderate to severe drought, according to the February 15 update of the U.S. Drought Monitor (Figures 5a–b). The expansion of severe drought across the southern third of the state is the biggest change since last month. Moderate drought expanded into east-central parts of the state, while abnormally dry conditions covered almost all of the remainder of New Mexico. Overall, 92 percent of the state is observing abnormally dry conditions or worse, with almost 23 percent experiencing severe drought conditions.
The La Niña event that has been in place since summer 2010 appears to be the main culprit behind dry conditions. The winter storm track has largely been north and east of New Mexico, leaving many parts of New Mexico and especially the southern part of the state with no chance for precipitation. Current La Niña conditions suggest that this pattern could last for the remainder of the winter, leading to further expansion and intensification of drought conditions across the Southwest.Notes:
The New Mexico section of the U.S. Drought Monitor is released weekly (every Thursday) and represents data collected through the previous Tuesday. The maps are based on expert assessment of variables including (but not limited to) the Palmer Drought Severity Index, soil moisture, streamflow, precipitation, and measures of vegetation stress, as well as reports of drought impacts. It is a joint effort of several agencies.
This summary contains substantial contributions from the New Mexico Drought Working Group.
For the most current drought status map, visit:
For the most current Drought Status Reports, visit:
Southwest Climate Outlook Staff
- Michael Crimmins, UA Extension Specialist
- Stephanie Doster, Institute of the Environment Editor
- Dan Ferguson, CLIMAS Program Director
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Gigi Owen, CLIMAS Assistant Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Swetish, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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