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Published February 27, 2013
Temperature(data through 2/20/13)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Since the start of the 2013 water year on October 1, average temperatures in the southwest deserts of Arizona, on the Colorado Plateau of northern Arizona and New Mexico, and in southern New Mexico (Figures 1a–b) have been mostly near average. However, looking at the average hides the fact that temperatures have alternated from extremely cold to extremely warm, especially in December and January. In fact, this winter has seen both record cold and record warm temperatures across Arizona and New Mexico. The higher elevations along the Mogollon Rim and in west-central and northern New Mexico are generally a few degrees cooler than average, which is typical of El Niño-neutral events, like the one currently underway.
During the past 30 days, five cold fronts passed through the Southwest. Consequently, temperatures alternated between unusually warm conditions as a result of high-pressure conditions and cold and wet conditions associated with the fronts. The storms generally moved south down the California coast to the Los Angeles basin before veering northeast through Arizona and western New Mexico. The storms, however, missed eastern New Mexico, and temperatures there were 2–4 degrees F warmer than average (Figures 1c–d). The temperature pattern in the last 30 days was also spotty, with above-average and below-average temperatures in different areas. This largely reflects the location of precipitation, with cooler-than-average conditions occurring in areas hit by the storms.Notes:
The water year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year. As of October 1, 2012, we are in the 2013 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 1981–2010. 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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