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June 2013 Southwest Climate Outlook
Published June 26, 2013
May Climate Summary
Drought: Drought conditions intensified across the Four Corners region of Arizona and New Mexico, in central Arizona, and in southeastern New Mexico.
Temperature: Temperatures were more than 3 degrees F warmer than average across much of Arizona and New Mexico.
Precipitation: Scant rain fell in Arizona, which is normal for this time of year, while rain soaked some parts of eastern New Mexico.
ENSO: ENSO-neutral conditions continue in the tropical Pacific Ocean and are expected to persist through the upcoming fall and winter.
Climate Forecasts: There are no clear signals for either above- or below-average precipitation during the monsoon; temperature forecasts, however, call for increased chances of warmer-than-average conditions.
The Bottom Line: Record-setting drought in New Mexico in the last 12 months is contributing to intensifying and widespread drought conditions in the state. New Mexico is now the epicenter for drought in the U.S., with extreme or exceptional drought covering about 90 percent of the state. According to some indicators, the last two years in New Mexico have been the most arid during the protracted dry period that began around 2000. Long-term drought impacts such as dwindling water supply are now acutely emerging. For example, low water stores in the Elephant Butte Reservoir—the Rio Grande’s largest reservoir—will cut allotments to farmers to only about 3.5 inches of water for every planted acre; when the reservoir is flush with water, farmers receive 36 inches per acre. Moreover, New Mexico’s largest fire, the Silver fire, is burning in the Gila National Forest, fueled by dead trees killed by beetle infestations; tree mortality from bark beetles is often more prevalent during drought periods. Although precipitation totals in Arizona were higher than they were in New Mexico this winter, drought conditions are also intense and widespread. Total water year (October–September) precipitation has been above average during only three years since 2000. Similarly, the monsoon has only delivered above-average rainfall in southeast Arizona and southwest New Mexico—the regions in the Southwest that experience the most vigorous monsoon activity—three times since 2000. The monsoon, however, will deliver some precipitation that likely will improve short-term drought conditions in some regions, quelling fires and greening seasonal vegetation. While there are indications monsoon rains will begin on time, usually around July 1 in southern portions of Arizona and New Mexico, it is unclear if total monsoon rainfall will be above or below average over the entire July–September period. Temperature forecasts, however, are more certain. They call for increased chances for warmer-than-average conditions, which would uphold warming trends in recent decades.
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 Dubious, New Mexico State Climatologist
Please direct your Southwest Climate Outlook comments and suggestions to Zack Guido.
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