Southwest Climate Outlook April 2004

Date issued

The rains of late March and early April (see page 2) brought welcome relief to drought conditions in southeastern New Mexico, changing many areas by as much as two drought classifications. However, while the agricultural drought status is lessening, the hydrologic facets of our long-term drought remain intact. As reported by the Associated Press (April 5, 2004), Charlie Liles, chief meteorologist at the Albuquerque National Weather Service office commenting on the early April storms said, “I think we’ll see some short-term benefits, especially on the range and pasture land out in the eastern plains. As far as the long-term effect, it’s kind of a drop in the bucket. You just can’t take a five year drought and fix it with a wet weekend.” Despite the rains, USDA officials placed Arizona range and pasture conditions in the “mostly fair” category—similar to last month. Poor range conditions are causing reduced grazing permits in many National Forests. In New Mexico,permit reductions range from one-third to one-half the cattle grazeda decade ago. Things are worse in Arizona with a 90 percent reduction in the Tonto National Forest and a grazing moratorium in parts of the Gila National Forest (Albuquerque Journal, March 28, 2004).

Published by the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), with support from University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, the Arizona State Climate Office, and the New Mexico State Climate office.

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