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Published January 23, 2013
Temperature(data trought 1/16/12)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Since the Water Year began on October 1, temperatures have generally ranged between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the southwestern deserts of Arizona, 35–45 degrees F on the Colorado Plateau of northern Arizona and New Mexico, and 45–55 degrees F in southern New Mexico (Figure 1a). The coldest regions have been in north-central New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains where temperatures have dipped to as much as 4 degrees F below average. Elsewhere in Arizona and New Mexico, temperatures have been within 2 degrees F of average (Figure 1b). Near-average conditions seem surprising given that October through mid-December 2012 was an extremely warm period. However, in recent weeks, temperatures have nosedived. Starting in mid-December, a series of cold low-pressure systems moved through the western U.S., with several bringing cold air to the Southwest. Most notably, in the second week of January a looping jet stream delivered Arctic air to the Southwest, and freeze warnings were issued by the National Weather Service for four mornings in a row in the Phoenix area and other regions across the Southwest. This was the longest cold snap since December 1978. Record low daytime and nighttime temperatures were recorded in the southwestern deserts. As a result, temperatures over most areas of both states during this four-day period beginning on January 11, were 4 to 12 degrees F below average, with only southeastern New Mexico escaping the bitter cold at a mere 0 to 4 degrees colder than average (Figures 1c–d).
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 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
- 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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