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Published March 24, 2011
Seasonal Drought Outlook(through June)
Data Source(s): NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC)
This summary is excerpted and edited from the March 17 Seasonal Drought Outlook technical discussion produced by the NOAA–Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and written by forecaster A. Artusa.
During the past 90 days drier-than-average conditions have affected much of Arizona and New Mexico, with southern portions of these states experiencing deficits between 1.0 and 3.5 inches. Precipitation deficits and depleted soil moisture are typical of La Niña winters, due to the northward displacement of the jet stream and associated storm track. As of March 13, basin-averaged snow water equivalent (SWE) ranged between 25 and 50 percent of average over the southern half of both Arizona and New Mexico. SWC values are considerably closer to average in far northern New Mexico. Changes in drought severity are most noticeable in central New Mexico, which is consistent with historical spring season (April through June) precipitation during a La Niña episode. Based on the climatology of the region, we know that as the year progresses, precipitation will continue to decrease, until the onset of the summer monsoon. For areas already in drought, the seasonal decrease in precipitation may be exacerbated somewhat by lingering La Niña conditions, which support the NOAA–CPC’s April-June outlooks (Figures 9 and 10). The outlooks call for enhanced chances of above-average temperatures and below-median precipitation across New Mexico, Arizona, southeastern Utah, and southwestern Colorado. The CPC assigns a high confidence for this forecast (Figure 11).
Elsewhere in the U.S., the La Niña event will continue to impact southern regions, with the exception of Southern California. The monthly and seasonal outlooks issued by the NOAA–CPC indicate the highest odds for below-median precipitation in southern New Mexico and along most southern parts of Texas and Louisiana. Drought is expected to persist or develop across most of the southern Plains and Southeast, except in Alabama, Arkansas, and central Virginia. Medium-range (6-10 day and 8-14 day) forecasts show increased chances of above-median precipitation in Virginia and the Ohio River valley.
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.
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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
- 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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