Southwest Climate Outlook February 2014

Date issued

Drought: Drought intensity increased in the last month in Arizona and New Mexico; severe and extreme drought conditions now cover about 57 percent of both states.

Precipitation: Rain and snow were nearly nonexistent in the last 30 days across all of Arizona and New Mexico due to the persistence of a high-pressure system over the West Coast. Most of the region received less than 25 percent of average precipitation. Although uncommon, the month of January has been as dry or drier in the past.

Temperature: Temperatures in the last 30 days in the Southwest were generally between 2 and 6 degrees F warmer than average, with the exception of eastern New Mexico, where temperatures were below average. Maximum temperatures were more above average than minimum temperatures.

Snowpack: All but one basin in Arizona and New Mexico are reporting snowpacks with less than 60 percent of average snowpacks as of February 18, and some of those basins are nearly snow-free. The headwaters of the Rio Grande in Colorado measured around 80 percent of average, while parts of the Upper Colorado River Basin had above-average conditions on February 18.

Water Supply: Total reservoir storage in Arizona and New Mexico in January decreased by about 230,000 and 36,000 acre-feet, respectively. Total storage in Arizona is at about 46 percent of capacity, while New Mexico is storing about 23 percent of capacity. Elephant Butte Reservoir in southern New Mexico gained about 33,000 acre-feet in January—increases are typical this time of year—but remains low, at 14 percent of capacity or 60 percent of average.

ENSO: Sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Pacific Ocean are near average and ENSO-neutral conditions remain entrenched. The majority of models forecast the persistence of ENSO-neutral status through the winter, with some hints for a developing El Niño in the summer and fall. However, it is often difficult to predict future ENSO conditions at this time of year.

Precipitation Forecasts: The NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) is calling for equal chances for above, below, or near-average precipitation across nearly all of Arizona and New Mexico for the March–May period.

Temperature Forecasts: The NOAA-Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecasts high chances for above-average temperatures in the Southwest during the March–May period.

Streamflow Forecasts: The April–July streamflow forecasts issued on February 1 for the Colorado River call for flows into Lake Powell to be around 95 percent of average. March–July forecasts for the Salt, Verde, and Gila rivers, on the other hand, project well below-average flows. In New Mexico, the March-July forecast for the Rio Grande at Otowi Bridge is around 50 percent of average.

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.

Disclaimer. This packet contains official and non-official forecasts, as well as other information. While we make every effort to verify this information, please understand that we do not warrant the accuracy of any of these materials. The user assumes the entire risk related to the use of this data. CLIMAS, UA Cooperative Extension, and the State Climate Office at Arizona State University (ASU) disclaim any and all warranties, whether expressed or implied, including (without limitation) any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will CLIMAS, UA Cooperative Extension, and the State Climate Office at ASU or The University of Arizona be liable to you or to any third party for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages or lost profit resulting from any use or misuse of this data.