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Published May 23, 2012
Seasonal Drought Outlook(data through August)
Data Source(s): NOAA–Climate Prediction Center (CPC)
This summary is partially excerpted and edited from the May 17 Seasonal Drought Outlook technical discussion produced by the NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) and written by forecaster A. Allgood.
Severe to extreme drought continues across southern Arizona and New Mexico because rainfall deficits mounted during winter months in many locations. Improvement in these conditions likely will not occur until the monsoon begins, typically in early July. Monsoon thunderstorms have the potential to bring local drought relief, but there is high uncertainty in the monsoon’s ultimate intensity and extent. A lack of snow cover in the southern Rocky Mountains may promote the early development of a high-pressure ridge, which could bring monsoon rains as early as June. Conversely, some forecast tools indicate a below-average monsoon, particularly in eastern locations. Despite uncertainty in the strength and onset date of the monsoon, moisture is expected, and therefore some improvement is likely across the Southwest (Figure 12). However, because there is high uncertainty in the monsoon, the NOAA-CPC assigns low confidence to this forecast.
Elsewhere in the West, moderate to severe drought covers most regions south of Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming. While the southwestern monsoon can bring moisture throughout the Four Corners states, the summer is historically dry across the Great Basin, California, and the Northwest. The 6–10 and 8–14 day outlooks favor abnormal dry weather across the Southwest, while the monthly and seasonal outlooks indicate enhanced odds for below-median precipitation in the Northwest. Based on these forecasts, drought persistence is expected across the areas in the western U.S. currently with drought, while drought development is possible in southwestern Colorado and southwestern Utah. The CPC assigns a high confidence in this forecast.
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.
Fore more information, visit:
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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