The University of Arizona

CLIMAS

Marie Blanche Roudaut

University of Arizona
First Name:  
Marie Blanche
Last Name:  
Roudaut
HELLO WOLRD!

Sophia Borgias

University of Arizona
First Name:  
Sophia
Last Name:  
Borgias
HELLO WOLRD!

Stephanie Doerries

University of Arizona
First Name:  
Stephanie
Last Name:  
Doerries
HELLO WOLRD!

Rio Grande-Bravo Outlook March 2018

Forecasts favor above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation for the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin through June.


Los pronósticos favorecen temperaturas superiores a la media y las precipitaciones inferiores a la media para la cuenca Río Grande/Bravo hasta junio.

4
ENSOHUB:  
Not part of ENSO Hub
MONSOONHUB:  
Unrelated to SW Monsoon
DROUGHTHUB:  
Non-Drought Hub Related

Southwest Climate Outlook March 2018

Precipitation & Temperature: Precipitation varied considerably across the Southwest in February, but temperatures remained warm throughout the region. Precipitation amounts ranged from below average to much-above average, with the wetter areas concentrated in southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico and the driest areas occurring in the Four Corners region and northeastern New Mexico (Fig. 1a). Temperatures ranged from average to above average in Arizona, and from above average to much-above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). Dec-Feb (DJF) precipitation was mostly below normal to much-below normal, with isolated areas of record-driest precipitation (Fig. 2). DJF temperatures were much-above normal to record warmest in Arizona and near normal to record warmest in New Mexico (Fig. 3).

Snowpack & Water Supply: Snowpack and snow water equivalent (SWE) have increased marginally over last month owing to increased winter storm activity. Even so, most of the stations in Arizona and New Mexico are reporting less than 25 percent of average, with the remainder reporting 25-50 percent of average (Fig. 4). The higher-elevation regions in Colorado and Utah that feed many of our waterways are not faring much better, with most stations reporting SWE of 25-75 percent of average. These data raise concerns about drought impacts on reservoir storage levels, rangeland and agricultural conditions, and wildfire risk going into the spring and summer seasons.

Drought: Drought-designated areas were further expanded and intensified in the March 13 U.S. Drought Monitor, with both Arizona and New Mexico documenting increases in the extent and intensity of drought since February’s outlook. The predominant classification in both states was severe drought (D2), while the remainder was a roughly equal mix of extreme drought (D3) and moderate drought (D1) (Fig. 5). These designations reflect short-term precipitation deficits and warm temperatures at monthly and seasonal timescales, as well longer-term drought conditions that track the cumulative effect of extended periods of warmer- and drier-than-normal conditions. February clawed back some of the precipitation deficit that accumulated over the previous weeks and months, but isolated events are unlikely to reverse longer-term trends or alleviate long-term drought and its impacts.

Wildfire: The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for April identified above-normal wildland fire risk for eastern New Mexico and the borderlands region in New Mexico and southeastern Arizona (Fig. 6). The above-normal fire risk expanded to include nearly all of Arizona and New Mexico in May and June. Warm and dry conditions this winter, in conjunction with above-normal fine-fuel loading and continuity, are major drivers of the elevated risk.

ENSO & La Niña: Oceanic and atmospheric conditions are still generally indicative of a La Niña event, but suggest a return to ENSO-neutral relatively soon. Most forecasts and outlooks call for a gradual decay to ENSO-neutral over spring, although some agencies have already declared this La Niña event over (see ENSO tracker for details). La Niña events tend to produce warmer- and drier-than-average winters in the Southwest, which is consistent with the DJF temperature and precipitation patterns observed this year.

Precipitation & Temperature Forecast: The three-month outlook for March through May calls for increased chances of below-average precipitation (Fig. 7, top) and increased chances of above-average temperatures (Fig. 7, bottom) for the southwestern United States.

17
ENSOHUB:  
Not part of ENSO Hub
MONSOONHUB:  
Unrelated to SW Monsoon
DROUGHTHUB:  
Non-Drought Hub Related

Rio Grande-Bravo Outlook February 2018

Forecasts favor above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation for the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin through May.


Los pronósticos favorecen las temperaturas superiores a la media y las precipitaciones inferiores a la media para la cuenca del Río Grande / Bravo hasta mayo.

 

4
ENSOHUB:  
Not part of ENSO Hub
MONSOONHUB:  
Unrelated to SW Monsoon
DROUGHTHUB:  
Non-Drought Hub Related

Feb 2018 SW Climate Podcast - Realistic Expectations for Clawing Back to Normal Precip in a La Niña - Prospects for a Miracle March?

Monday, February 19, 2018

In the February 2018 episode of the CLIMAS Southwest Climate Podcast, Mike Crimmins and Zack Guido chat about what's been going on in the Southwest over the past few months, since we last recorded a podcast.  In terms of precipitation, the answer is not much, unless the day in question is also a podcast day - the weather has an odd - but welcome - habit of raining on days we record the podcast.  In terms of temperature, the record to near record heat remains a key part of the winter story.

Southwest Climate Outlook February 2018

Precipitation & Temperature: January was warm and dry across the Southwest. Precipitation was average to below average in most of Arizona, and below average to much-below average in New Mexico (Fig. 1a). Temperatures were much-above average to record warmest in Arizona, and ranged from near average to much-above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). Looking to the water year (Oct. 1-present), much of Arizona and New Mexico have been recording below-normal precipitation (Fig. 2) and above-average temperatures (Fig. 3) for the period.

Snowpack & Water Supply: Snowpack and snow water equivalent (SWE) are below average across the Southwest (Fig. 4), with most stations in Arizona and New Mexico having recorded less than 25 percent of normal, until recent storms in mid-February boosted SWE in central Arizona. La Niña typically brings warmer and drier conditions to the Southwest in winter, so these patterns are not unexpected, but they do raise concerns about drought impacts on water resource management, reservoir storage levels, rangeland and agricultural conditions, and wildfire risk.

Drought: Drought-designated areas were further expanded and intensified in the Feb. 13 U.S. Drought Monitor, with both Arizona and New Mexico documenting increases in the extent and intensity of drought since January’s outlook. The predominant classification in both states was severe drought (D2), with moderate drought (D1) covering the remaining areas except for small pockets of extreme drought (D3) (Fig. 5). These designations reflect short-term precipitation deficits and warm temperatures at monthly and seasonal timescales, as well longer-term drought conditions that track the cumulative effect of extended periods of warmer- and drier-than-normal conditions. A winter storm is bringing substantial moisture to southern and central Arizona at the time of this writing, which will help moderate short-term conditions but do little to alleviate long-term drought and its impacts.

Wildfire: Warm and dry conditions this winter, in conjunction with above-normal fine fuel loading and continuity, have led to a relatively early start to fire season, thus we are initiating the seasonal fire risk outlooks sooner than in previous years. The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for February and March identifies above-normal wildland fire risk for southeastern New Mexico and portions of the borderlands region in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona (Fig. 6). The extended outlook for April and May identifies above-normal wildland fire risk in nearly all of Arizona and New Mexico. Notably, two fires are already burning in southern Arizona, including the Altar fire and the Knob Hill fire.

ENSO & La Niña: Oceanic and atmospheric conditions continue to indicate an ongoing La Niña event of near-moderate strength. The event is starting to show signs of returning to ENSO-neutral, and most forecasts and outlooks indicate a gradual decay to ENSO-neutral this spring. In the Southwest, La Niña events tend to produce drier-than-average winters, and given the observed conditions this fall and winter, the La Niña influence continues to cause concern in the Southwest in terms of winter precipitation, drought, and water resource management.

Precipitation & Temperature Forecast: The three-month outlook for March through May calls for increased chances of below-average precipitation (Fig. 7, top) and increased chances of above-average temperatures (Fig. 7, bottom) for the southwestern United States.

17
ENSOHUB:  
Not part of ENSO Hub
MONSOONHUB:  
Unrelated to SW Monsoon
DROUGHTHUB:  
Non-Drought Hub Related

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