Southwest Climate Outlook January 2012

Date issued

January 2012 Climate Summary

Drought: Warm and dry conditions reigned in Arizona in the past 30 days, and moderate or a more severe drought category covered more than 60 percent of the state. In eastern New Mexico, drought conditions slightly improved.

Temperature: Temperatures were warmer than average in many regions in the Southwest in the last month. Most of Arizona was at least 3 degrees F above average, and temperatures across a large section of the Colorado Plateau were up to 6 degrees F warmer than average.

Precipitation: Conditions generally have been dry in the past 30 days, which reflects the typical La Niña pattern that was not present during the first three weeks of December.

Climate Forecasts: Seasonal precipitation outlooks call for drier-than-average conditions through the winter in New Mexico and Arizona, with southern regions drier than northern areas. Temperature outlooks call for increased odds of warmer-than-average conditions through the winter.

The Bottom Line: Dry conditions returned to Arizona and the western half of New Mexico after a wet and cool December. These conditions are more representative of typical La Niña events, in which the jet stream and the storms it ferries are often pushed north. Like last winter, December was wet and January has been dry. The key difference, however, is that this winter the Upper Colorado River Basin did not benefit from the December storms that blanketed the high elevations of Arizona and New Mexico in snow. Rather, snow has been sparse and most snowpacks in this region are well below average. Consequently, early spring streamflow forecasts for the Colorado River call for inflow into Lake Powell to be about 64 percent of average. Conditions can rapidly change, and there likely will be more wet spells. However, using past La Niña events as a guide, forecasters expect dry conditions to be more common than wet ones.

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.