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Published July 25, 2012
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
The temperature pattern in the Southwest since the water year began on October 1 has been tied to elevation. The coldest conditions are found at the highest elevations in both states, while the southwest deserts and the Lower Colorado River Basin have had the warmest temperatures (Figure 1a). The winter storms that tracked through the Southwest generally passed over the northern portions of both states, and many of them missed Arizona and New Mexico altogether. Those that did strike the region generally ferried warm conditions. The combination of dry winter conditions and relatively warm storms resulted in warmer-than-average temperatures in the region. Eastern New Mexico had the highest temperature departures from average, and only isolated locations were colder than average. The unusually cold temperatures in south-central Arizona were the result of a single storm that tracked across northern Mexico (Figure 1b). The lack of winter storms through central Arizona caused Gila County to be the warmest location in Arizona, while Colfax County in northeastern New Mexico was that state’s hot spot.
In the past 30 days, the temperature pattern was largely dictated by monsoon moisture. The western half of Arizona had near-average temperatures due to numerous surges of moisture from the Gulf of California, primarily in the past two weeks (Figures 1c–d). High pressure over eastern Texas brought clear skies and above-average temperatures to eastern Arizona and most of New Mexico and Colorado.
The water year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year. As of October 1, 2011, we are in the 2012 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
- 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 Dubious, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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