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Published October 24, 2012
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Temperatures since the water year began on October 1 have averaged between 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the southwest deserts and along the Arizona-California border, 50 to 60 degrees F across the Colorado Plateau in Arizona, and 45–60 degrees F across most of New Mexico (Figure 1a). This temperature pattern is typical of the early fall season where the transition from summer to fall temperatures occurs much more slowly in the deserts than in the higher elevations. Nighttime temperatures in the high elevations have already dipped below freezing, while the deserts have still had high temperatures in the low 100s and upper 90s. Since October 1, average temperatures in Southern Arizona and most of New Mexico have been 0 to 2 degrees F warmer than average, while the northern half of Arizona and central New Mexico have been 2 to 4 degrees F warmer than average so far this year (Figure 1b). Only eastern New Mexico is starting the water year with cooler-than-average temperatures. In the last month, temperatures have similarly been above average in nearly all the Southwest (Figures 1c–d). The map of the past 30 days shows the water year is beginning with the same warm pattern as the last water year ended.
Looking ahead, warmer-than-average conditions are forecast to continue through winter and into spring for the Southwest (see page 17). If warmer-than-average conditions occur, they will have a significant impact on the western snowpack by causing more rain to fall instead of snow at the elevations largely below 8,500 feet above sea level. This would, in turn, reduce the spring runoff.
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.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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