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Published October 25, 2011
Precipitation across nearly the entire Southwest was below average for the water year, causing drought conditions to expand and intensify. Northwest Arizona, which was slammed with a strong winter storm in December that helped boost precipitation totals above average, was one of only a few regions to receive copious rain and snow. Precipitation ranged from 4 inches above average in northwestern Arizona to 8 inches below average across the rest of the state and most of New Mexico (Figure 2a). The southeastern half of New Mexico experienced the driest conditions, receiving 8–16 inches below average. This is a substantial shortfall—the region typically receives an average of 16–24 inches. Northwestern Arizona, the only region with above-average precipitation, received 100–130 percent of average rain and snowfall (Figure 2b). The Colorado Plateau in Arizona, the eastern border of Arizona, and the northwestern quarter of New Mexico received 50–90 percent of average precipitation. The driest spots were southwestern Arizona and the entire southeastern half of New Mexico, where precipitation totaled less than 50 percent of average. A few isolated locations in Eddy and Lea counties and southern Grant County in New Mexico received less than 25 percent of average. In the major southwestern cities, only Flagstaff received above-average rain and snowfall, while Albuquerque and El Paso received less than half of their average precipitation (Figure 2c).
The lack of precipitation was in part due to the La Niña event, which helped steer winter storms north of the region. The monsoon also produced spotty and generally below-average rainfall. The dry water year is particularly devastating to groundwater aquifers and streamflow as the lack of consistent precipitation reduces the soil moisture and inhibits recharge even when rain does fall.
Click figures to enlarge.
|El Paso, TX||4.63||9.83||-5.20||-1.08|
*See notes section on Southwest Climate Outlook recent precipitation page for more information on interpreting these figures.
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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