Precipitation and Temperature: June precipitation ranged from record driest to near average in Arizona, while in New Mexico, precipitation ranged from much-below to much-above average (Fig. 1a). This difference reflects the seasonal progression of monsoon activity in the Southwest—it typically starts earlier in New Mexico and progresses westward—as well as the relatively late start to monsoon activity observed in much of Arizona this year. June temperatures ranged from much-above average to record warmest in Arizona and from above average to much-above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). A region-wide heat wave that struck in mid-to-late June helped drag up the averages, setting a number of daily high records across Arizona. Year-to-date precipitation ranks reveal average to above-average precipitation in all of New Mexico and much of Arizona, with a pocket of below-average precipitation in southeast Arizona (Fig. 2a). Year-to-date temperatures reveal much-above-average to record-warmest conditions in both Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 2b).(read more)
At the time of publication (Jun 15, 2017), an extreme heatwave is forecast to hit the Southwest beginning later this week and extending into next week the week of June 19, peaking on/around June 19-20, 2017. Tucson is currently forecast to reach 114, while Phoenix may see temperatures reach 120 – both of which are approaching the record high temperatures for Tucson and Phoenix, respectively. Southwestern summers have a well-earned reputation for extreme temperatures, and compared to most of the country, even a ‘normal’ summer day is often much warmer than record high temperatures in more temperate locales. The Phoenix NWS office is piloting an experimental heat extremes tracker/map that highlights the risk potential associated with direct exposure and more sustained heat events. (Figs. 1a-ab). (read more)
In 2008, the National Weather Service changed the definition of the start of the Southwest monsoon from a variable date based on locally measured conditions to a fixed date of June 15. Prior to 2008, the start date reflected the seasonal progression of the monsoon (Fig. 1). This is based on larger seasonal atmospheric patterns and the establishment of the ‘monsoon ridge’ in the Southwest (Figs. 3a-b, also see sidebar for link to NWS pages).
In Southern Arizona, the start date was based on the average daily dewpoint temperature. Phoenix and Tucson NWS offices used the criteria of three consecutive days of daily average dewpoint temperature above a threshold (55 degrees in Phoenix, 54 degrees in Tucson) to define the start date of the monsoon. As shown in Figure 2, the dewpoint temperature criterion produced start dates ranging from mid-June to late July over the period of record (1949-2016). The average daily dewpoint temperature is still a useful tool to track the onset and progression of conditions that favor monsoon events, and the National Weather Service includes a dewpoint tracker in their suite of monsoon tools. (read more)
Oceanic and atmospheric indicators of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) are still within the range of neutral (Figs. 1-2), although sea-surface temperatures more consistently hint at borderline El Niño conditions compared to atmospheric indicators. Outlooks and forecasts generally agree that ENSO-neutral conditions will persist through the summer and is the most likely scenario for the rest of 2017. A lingering possibility remains of an El Nino event developing later this fall, but forecasts since last month have shifted further from that likelihood. (read more)
Precipitation & Temperature: May precipitation was variable across the Southwest, ranging from average to much-above average in Arizona and below to above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1a). Similarly, May temperatures were average to above average across Arizona and ranged from below to above average in New Mexico (Fig. 1b). Taking a longer view, spring (March-May) precipitation was mostly below average in Arizona, while New Mexico ranged from below average in the southwestern region to above average in the northeast (Fig. 2a). Spring temperatures were much-above average across most of the Southwest (Fig. 2b). So far in June, temperatures have ranged from 0 to 8 degrees above normal across much of Arizona and New Mexico, with extreme heat forecast for the week of June 19. June precipitation has been sparse in most of Arizona, with infrequent storm activity mostly in southern and eastern New Mexico. (read more)
The Sawmill fire (Fig. 1) started, reportedly by recreational shooting, on April 23, 2017 in a grass- and shrub-covered area of low-elevation Arizona state lands approximately 40 miles south of Tucson. The fire spread quickly due to dry and windy conditions that day: the temperature reached 98 degrees, relative humidity ranged between 4 and 18 percent, and sustained winds reached 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. High winds, high temperatures, and low relative humidity continued through much of the following week, driving rapid growth of the fire (Fig. 2). (read more)
Precipitation & Temperature: April precipitation was average to above average in New Mexico, while most of Arizona was below average, including much-below average and record-dry conditions in the southwestern corner of the state (Fig. 1a). April temperatures were above average in nearly all of Arizona and New Mexico, with much-above average temperatures in southern Arizona (Fig. 1b). May has been dry in southern Arizona and New Mexico, while parts of northern Arizona and northern and eastern New Mexico have picked up decent precipitation relative to the normally dry May climate (Fig. 2). May temperatures in Arizona and New Mexico have ranged from 4 degrees below to 4 degrees above normal, while temperatures in higher latitudes and upper elevations (e.g. Upper Colorado River Basin, California Sierras, etc.) have been generally warmer than average, ranging from 0 to 8 degrees above normal. Water year precipitation has been normal to above normal across most of Arizona and New Mexico aside from a small pocket of dry conditions along the Arizona-Mexico border (Fig. 3). (read more)
Oceanic and atmospheric indicators are still within the range of neutral (Figs. 1-2), although sea-surface temperatures have more consistently hinted at El Niño compared to atmospheric indicators. Outlooks and forecasts generally agree that ENSO-neutral conditions are likely to remain through the summer, but by mid-to-late 2017, chances of an El Niño event emerging become approximately equal to the chances of continued ENSO-neutral conditions. (read more)
More than 130 public sector and nonprofit organizations provide climate services to the eleven western states, yet until now there has been no centralized resource to connect climate information users with the wide array of information and services available.
The is a searchable directory of climate service providers in the west that makes climate services easier to find. Its powerful search function allows users to customize their search based on the type of service, the geographic area, stakeholders served, and several additional parameters. It’s a match-making app for the climate world.