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Published March 27, 2013
Temperature(data through 3/20/13)
Data Source(s): High Plains Regional Climate Center
Temperatures since the water year began on October 1 have been warmest in the southwest deserts of Arizona and coldest in the northern mountains of New Mexico, which is normal and a function of elevation differences (Figure 1a). Most temperatures in the Southwest have been within 1 degree Fahrenheit of average except in eastern New Mexico, where temperature anomalies have been slightly higher (Figure 1b). While this winter has had numerous cold fronts, in which frigid polar air moved into the Southwest, frequent high pressure ridges have brought clear skies and warm temperatures, and temperature variability has therefore been high. The flip-flopping of high pressure (clear skies) and low pressure (storm systems) that move down the West Coast and cross northeastward through Arizona and New Mexico before crossing the Great Plains is typical of atmospheric circulation during neutral El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events.
During the past 30 days, three strong cold fronts and a fourth, weaker one wafted over Arizona and New Mexico, causing temperatures to be 0–4 degrees F colder than average in most locations (Figures 1c–d). However, in recent weeks the Southwest has experienced rapid spring warming; temperatures have been 3–6 degrees F above average in many locations. The jet stream in recent weeks also has been farther north, reflecting the transition from the winter weather pattern into spring. Although the coming months are historically dry, it is still possible for late winter and early spring storms to occur, which would lower temperatures during those events.Notes:
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.Water year is more commonly used in association with precipitation; water year temperature can be used to measure the temperatures associated with the hydrological activity during the water year.
Average refers to the arithmetic mean of annual data from 1981–2010. Departure from average temperature is calculated by subtracting current data from the average. The result can be positive or negative.
The continuous color maps (Figures 1a, 1b, 1c) are derived by taking measurements at individual meteorological stations and mathematically interpolating (estimating) values between known data points. The dots in Figure 1d show data values for individual stations. Interpolation procedures can cause aberrant values in data-sparse regions.
These are experimental products from the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
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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