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Published February 22, 2012
Seasonal Drought Outlook(through May)
Data Source(s): NOAA–Climate Prediction Center (CPC)
This summary is partially excerpted and edited from the February 16 Seasonal Drought Outlook technical discussion produced by the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and written by forecaster A. Artusa.
Precipitation since the water year began on October 1 is close to average across the mountains of Arizona and New Mexico; precipitation in the higher elevations of New Mexico has been greater. Totals were boosted by a wet period extending from mid-November into December, when numerous storms wafted south and dropped moderate to heavy snow and above-average precipitation across both states. A dry and warm period followed, and currently the water contained in snowpacks, or snow water equivalent (SWE), ranges from 75 to 125 percent of average in most of New Mexico and generally 50–75 percent of average across the Mogollon Rim of central Arizona. Looking ahead, forecasts on all time scales favor below-median precipitation for the Southwest, which is typical for a La Niña winter. In addition, there are increased odds for above-average temperatures in March–May. As a result, drought is forecast to persist, intensify, or develop across the Southwest, including many parts of the Upper Colorado River and Rio Grande basins. The CPC assigns a moderate to high confidence in this forecast.
Elsewhere in the West, drought is forecast to persist or intensify across most of California and Nevada, with development likely occurring in parts of those two states and Utah that are currently drought-free. The drought development is based on historic La Niña conditions and the CPC monthly and seasonal precipitation outlooks that indicate increased chances for below-median precipitation.
The delineated areas in the Seasonal Drought Outlook are defined subjectively and are based on expert assessment of numerous indicators, including the official precipitation outlooks, various medium- and short-range forecasts , models such as the 6-10 day and 8-14 day forecasts, soil moisture tools, and climatology.
For more information, visit:
For medium- and short-range forecasts, visit:
For soil moisture tools, 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.
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