Southwest Climate Outlook February 2008

Date issued

February Climate Summary
Drought – Wet conditions in December and January have resulted in marked improvements
in short-term drought across Arizona. New Mexico has missed many
of these storms with most of the southeastern corner of the state only observing 25
percent of average precipitation in the past thirty days.
Temperature – Temperatures have generally been below-average across most of Arizona
and northern New Mexico over the past thirty days. Southeast New Mexico has
been relatively warm, with temperatures measuring above-average for the same period.
Precipitation – Much of Arizona and northern New Mexico observed very wet
conditions over the past thirty days with many locations reporting 150 to 200
percent of average. Southeastern Arizona and much of southern New Mexico have
been drier, with less than 100 percent of average precipitation observed.
ENSO – La Niña conditions strengthened this past month with sea surface temperatures
over 2 degrees Celsius below-average in the central Pacific Ocean and the
Southern Oscillation Index falling to -1.9 by the end of January. Forecasts indicate
a strong likelihood that La Niña conditions will persist into the spring.
Climate Forecasts – Seasonal climate forecasts continue to project dry and warm
conditions across the Southwest into the spring. The La Niña event is to blame for
the below-average precipitation forecast and for the above-average temperature forecast.
The Bottom Line – Wet conditions across much of Arizona continued into January
due to a persistent storm track . Southeast Arizona and much of southern New Mexico
has missed out on the precipitation from these recent storms. This has prompted
an expansion of abnormally dry drought status across the region on the National
Drought Monitor. The current La Niña event is expected to persist into the spring.

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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