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Published May 23, 2012
Temperature(data through 5/16/12)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Temperatures since the water year began on October 1 have generally followed the terrain, with the warmest conditions in the southwest deserts of Arizona, and the coldest conditions on the Colorado Plateau of northern Arizona and New Mexico (Figure 1a). The temperature pattern reflects the trajectory of cold winter storms that have passed through Nevada and Utah and dipped down into northern Arizona before wafting northeast through New Mexico. The southeastern half of New Mexico missed out on most of the cold fronts, but an occasional storm that tracked through northern Mexico kept southern New Mexico’s temperatures cooler than the otherwise would have been. In general, temperatures are within 2 degrees F of average across most of both states, with most areas being warmer than average (Figure 1b). Only a few isolated spots had significantly colder-than-average temperatures.
In the past 30 days, high pressure has dominated the atmospheric circulation pattern, bringing warm, dry air up from Mexico and setting new records for both daytime highs and high nighttime low temperatures. As a result, all of Arizona and New Mexico experienced unseasonably warm conditions (Figures 1c–d). There was also a large west-east temperature gradient, with temperatures in Arizona warmer than in New Mexico. This gradient was caused by high pressure systems that were more persistently parked over Arizona. The excessive heat early in the season, combined with a very dry spring, dried out grasses and is contributing to high wildfire danger (see page Wildland Fire Outlook).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 Dubois, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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