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Published June 27, 2012
Precipitation(data through 6/20/12)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Precipitation since the water year began on October 1 has been less than 70 percent of average over most of Arizona and less than 90 percent over most of New Mexico (Figures 2a–b). While these percentages do not suggest conditions have been extremely dry, almost all the precipitation fell between October and December 2011. Since January 1 precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico has totaled less than 50 percent of average for most of both states, with numerous regions receiving less than 25 percent of average. The dry weather since January is a result of low moisture content in the winter storms that crossed northern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico. The lone region of above-average precipitation occurred in the Sangria Mountains in New Mexico, where topography repeatedly lifted air high enough to wring significant moisture out of the clouds. Elsewhere, a few isolated areas in southwestern and northwestern Arizona and Lincoln and Torrance counties in New Mexico have had nearly average precipitation this year.
In the past 30 days, Arizona was largely bone dry (Figures 2c–d). The one exception was in southeastern Arizona, where monsoon-flavored storms flared up on June 16. New Mexico also was parched, with only Harding, Quay, and San Miguel counties receiving some relief from the drought. Although the La Niña event, which helped deliver dry conditions this winter, is officially gone, it left its mark. The spring was one of the hottest and driest on record and followed a dry winter. Relief will only come when the monsoon thunderstorm activity begins in earnest, which historically has occured in late June and early July.Notes:
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. The water year is a more hydrologically sound measure of climate and hydrological activity than is the standard calendar year.
Average refers to the arithmetic mean of annual data from 1971–2000. Percent of average precipitation is calculated by taking the ratio of current to average precipitation and multiplying by 100.
The continuous color maps (Figures 2a, 2c) are derived by taking measurements at individual meteorological stations and mathematically interpolating (estimating) values between known data points. Interpolation procedures can cause aberrant values in data-sparse regions.
The dots in Figures 2b and 2d show data values for individual meteorological stations.
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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