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Published November 23, 2010
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Since the water year began on October 1, a few winter storms have crossed the Southwest and flowed northeast from Southern California into Utah and Colorado, leaving most of Arizona and New Mexico dry. Northwestern Arizona has been clipped by some of these storms and has received 150 to more than 300 percent of average precipitation. Other areas in both states, however, have received 25–90 percent of average precipitation. The driest areas have been southeastern Arizona and southern New Mexico, where rain has measured less than 25 percent of average (Figures 2a–b). The Sangre de Cristo Mountains in north-central New Mexico have received 110–200 percent of average precipitation. The biggest storms blew through in early October, bringing hail and spawning tornados in central and northern Arizona.
During the past 30 days, northwestern Arizona has received 2–75 percent of average precipitation, and the lower Colorado River has been wetter than average (Figures 2c–d). Northern New Mexico currently tallies between 100 and 200 percent of average. Eastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, on the other hand, have received less than 25 percent of average precipitation in the last month, which is consistent with their dry conditions since the beginning of the water year. Unfortunately, this dry pattern is forecast to continue through the winter, although some winter storms will pass through the Southwest.Notes:
The water year begins on October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year. As of October 1, 2010, we are in the 2011 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 1971–2000. 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
- Dan Ferguson, CLIMAS Program Director
- Gregg Garfin, Founding Editor, Institute of the Environment
- Zack Guido, CLIMAS Associate Staff Scientist
- Gigi Owen, CLIMAS Assistant Staff Scientist
- Nancy J. Selover, Arizona State Climatologist
- Jessica Swetish, CLIMAS Publications Assistant
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
The CLIMAS Web site contains official and non-official forecasts, as well as other information. While we make every effort to verify this information, please understand that we do not warrant the accuracy of any of these materials.... Read full disclaimer