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Published February 22, 2012
February 2012 Climate Summary
Drought: Warm and dry weather has caused short-term drought conditions to intensify across much of Arizona and persist in New Mexico.
Temperature: Warm temperatures have reigned in the last 30 days, largely because high pressure has dominated and few winter storms have traversed the region.
Precipitation: Several winter storms dipped into the Four Corners region before wafting northeast through Colorado in the last 30 days. While this storm track delivered wetter–than-average conditions to the Four Corners, it left most of Arizona and New Mexico very dry.
ENSO: The La Niña event is expected to continue for the next several months. The official forecast indicates a 74 percent chance that La Niña will continue during the February–April period, but chances for its continuation thereafter precipitously decline.
Climate Forecasts: March–May forecasts call for above-average temperatures and below-average rain and snow.
The Bottom Line: January and the first half of February have been dry and warm, conditions often associated with a La Niña event. The rain and snow that soaked the region in December—modestly improving drought—was relatively short-lived; drought is once again on the march. Snowpack conditions in all of Arizona and most of New Mexico are below average, as are those in the Upper Colorado River and Rio Grande basins. As a result, there is a 50-50 chance that spring inflow into Lake Powell will be about 64 percent of the 1971–2000 average; chances for above-average flows are small. Last winter’s exceptionally high streamflows, however, increased combined storage in Lakes Mead and Powell by about 2 million acre-feet more than average and will help buffer below-average flows in the Colorado River this year. More dry weather is expected to continue as forecasts call for the continuation of La Niña for at least the next several months.
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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