The University of Arizona

2017 In Review | CLIMAS

2017 In Review

2017 In Review

Temperatures in 2017 were 1–4 °F (0.6–2.2 °C) above average for New Mexico and Texas (Figure 11; left). It was the warmest year on record for New Mexico, and the second warmest for Texas (Figure 12). Precipitation varied across both states, with below-average precipitation in western New Mexico and West, Central, and South Texas, and above-average precipitation in eastern New Mexico and North Texas (Figure 11; right). Southeast Texas, near Houston, experienced precipitation over 20 inches above average due to Hurricane Harvey, in August. 

The beginning of 2017 started out with record snowpack in parts of the Central Rockies, in February. By April 1st, there was above-average snowpack at most mountain locations. In the South, including parts of Texas, wildfires burned 2 million acres, during March, from warm, windy, and relatively dry conditions. The total acres burned was 600,000 acres above the previous record set and almost seven times the 2000-2010 average (NOAA). In Autumn, Texas experienced precipitation well below average. In October, areas of western Texas received precipitation less than 5% of average, and in November, southern Texas received precipitation less than 5% of average as well. Drought in both New Mexico and Texas was fairly stable over the course of the year, with less than 10% of both states experiencing moderate or greater drought conditions, until December, when drought conditions intensified.

Figure 11 (above): Departure from average temperature in degrees F (left) and departure from average precipitation in inches (right), compared to the 1981–2010 climate average, for 1/1/2017–12/31/2017. Maps from HPRCC.

Figure 12 (above): Average U.S. Statewide Temperature Ranks from 1/1/2017-12/31/2017 from NOAA.

Northern Mexico received variable precipitation in 2017, but the larger patterns were dryness in the Northwest and slight moisture in North and Northeast parts of the country (Figure 13, left). In contrast, the annual mean temperature was mostly warmer than normal (Figure 13, right). The Baja California Peninsula reach its second warmest year on record, while Sinaloa and Durango recorded its warmest year, according to data since 1971.

Figure 13 (above): Percent of normal precipitation (left) and annual mean temperature anomalies in °C (right) for January–December. Maps from SMN.