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Published May 22, 2013
Precipitation(data through 5/15/13)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
The 2013 water year, which began on October 1, continues to be extremely dry in the Southwest. The driest areas are in central and southern New Mexico, which have received less than 25 percent of average precipitation (Figures 2a–b). No weather stations in New Mexico have measured above-average precipitation. Most of Arizona also has received less than 70 percent of average, although near- or slightly above-average precipitation has fallen in two small regions. Two factors contributed to wetter-than-average conditions in central Arizona: the trajectory of several winter storms passing over this region and the Mogollon Rim, where the sharp rise in elevation forces air upward, forming clouds and ultimately resulting in precipitation.
Only one significant storm blew through the region in the past 30 days. The highest measured rainfall was 0.75 inches in the town of Alpine in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona. Far eastern New Mexico also had a single isolated storm. A station in southwest Utah near St. George also received substantial rain. The remainder of both states received less than 50 percent of average rainfall (Figures 2c–d). However, this time of year is historically dry, so large deviations in the percent of average do not account for large changes in total amounts.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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