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Published August 21, 2013
Precipitation(data through August 14, 2013)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Precipitation across the Southwest since the water year began on October 1 has been below average, largely a consequence of a dry winter (Figures 2a–b). While precipitation in most of Arizona has been less than 80 percent, New Mexico has fared worse. Rain and snow in most of the state has measured less than 70 percent of average, but central Arizona, especially northern Gila and southern Coconino counties, received average to above average winter rain and snow. Gila County is also experiencing a wetter-than-average monsoon. Most of the winter storms that crossed the West this year missed New Mexico because persistent high pressure in the Southwest prevented storms from wafting into the region.
During the past 30 days, many parts of the Colorado Plateau and the southwestern counties of Arizona received more than 200 percent of average summer precipitation (Figures 2c–d). Only southern Maricopa and Mohave counties in Arizona are experiencing a significantly drier-than-average monsoon. Many regions in New Mexico also have been doused by an active monsoon, and rainfall has amounted to more than 125 percent of average across the state. Figures 2b and 2d reflect precipitation measured at many locations in the region, but the number of stations is inadequate to fully capture the variability in space characteristic of the monsoon. The monsoon, as always, has been localized, with significant precipitation at one location and almost none nearby. Nonetheless, the moisture in both states has helped reduce fire risk and improve rangeland conditions.
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. 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 1981–2010. 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
- 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.
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