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Published March 27, 2013
Precipitation(data through 3/20/13)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Precipitation since the water year began on October 1 has been very dry in the Southwest, particularly in New Mexico, where rain and snow have been less than 50 percent of average (Figures 2a–b). Arizona has fared only slightly better, as most of the state has received less than 70 percent of average. The driest parts have been in areas of central and southwestern New Mexico, where precipitation has amounted to less than 25 percent of average. Only parts of La Paz County, the area around Gila County, and the Mogollon Rim—all in Arizona—and Union County in northeast New Mexico have received above-average precipitation. While numerous low-pressure systems have wafted through Arizona this winter, most of these storms ferried limited moisture, and consequently precipitation totals generally have been low.
Four winter storms passed through Arizona during the past 30 days, and two of these also clipped northern New Mexico. Precipitation from those storms was very localized, especially in New Mexico, and some areas in both states received above-average rain and snow. However, most of both states received less than 70 percent of precipitation between February 19 and March 20 (Figures 2c–d). This pattern is similar to the precipitation pattern throughout the entire winter. The highest precipitation in Arizona fell in Gila County and along the Mogollon Rim, with very dry conditions along the California border, in the northeastern corner of the state, and in southwest Graham County. The most recent storm occurred at the beginning of March and brought snow and ice pellets to the Phoenix area.Notes:
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. 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 1981–2010. 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.
For these and other precipitation maps, visit:
For National Climatic Data Center monthly precipitation and drought reports for Arizona, New Mexico, and the Southwest region, 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 Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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