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Published March 21, 2012
Temperature(data through 3/14/12)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Temperatures since the water year began on October 1 have averaged between 30 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit in New Mexico and the Colorado Plateau, while the southwest deserts of Arizona have averaged between 50 and 65 degrees F (Figure 1a). The coldest temperatures have been in the higher elevations in Arizona and in the northern counties of New Mexico. Temperatures have been mostly within 1 degree F of average across both states (Figure 1b). The distribution of warmer- and colder-than-average areas is related to the winter storm tracks, which have been highly variable throughout this winter. For the most part, cold air has stayed far to the north, which is in part related to positive Arctic Oscillation (AO) values—cold air is generally confined in the Arctic region during a positive AO. A few cold storms have wafted as far south as northern Mexico, catching southern Arizona and New Mexico as they past.
In the past 30 days, two winter storms have moved across the Southwest, bringing cold air and 1–6 degree F below-average temperatures in Arizona and western New Mexico (Figures 1c–d). Eastern New Mexico has been the only area with above-average temperatures; the jet stream looped farther north and into Canada, which allowed temperatures to rise 10–20 degrees F above average over many parts of the central U.S.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.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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