Southwest Climate Outlook July 2021

Date issued

Precipitation and Temperature: June precipitation was between below average and much above average in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 1a). June temperatures were above average to record warmest in Arizona and between above average and much above average in most of New Mexico (Fig. 1b). 2021 precipitation ranks (Jan-Jun) were between average and much below average across most of the Southwest, with a few pockets of above-average and much above average (Fig. 2a). Temperature ranks for 2021 (Jan-Jun) were above average to much above average across most of the Southwest (Fig. 2b).

Drought: Water year precipitation (as of Jun 30, 2021) is between below normal and record driest across most of the Southwest (Fig. 3). The U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) has scaled back some of the drought categorizations in eastern New Mexico and small areas in central Arizona (Fig. 4). Nearly all of the region was already characterized as experiencing drought, and these changes reflect a few areas with less intense, but still persistent, drought characterization. The rest of the region remains mostly unchanged.

Water Supply: Most of the reservoirs in the region are at or below the values recorded at this time last year. Most are also below their long-term average (see Arizona & New Mexico reservoir storage).

Wildfire: Wildfire season saw a large and rapid surge in activity in May and June, particularly in Arizona. This led to numerous waves of closures and evacuations. New Mexico saw a much quieter early season. As of July 11, Arizona is much above both mean and median acres burned, while New Mexico is below mean and median for acres burned (Fig. 5). The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) significant wildland fire potential outlooks call for normal wildfire risk across all of Arizona and New Mexico in July and August. This forecast leaned on monsoon precipitation tamping down fire risk.

Monsoon Tracker: So far, early monsoon activity has been a welcome change from 2020 with numerous areas seeing normal to above-normal monsoon precipitation to date (Fig. 6, see details in the Monsoon Tracker).

ENSO Tracker: ENSO conditions have reverted to ENSO-neutral. The long-term forecasts see a possible return to La Niña conditions this fall and winter. The forecasts have considerable uncertainty, so this picture will likely become clearer by the end of summer (see ENSO-tracker for details).

Precipitation and Temperature Forecast: The three-month outlook for August through October calls for increased chances for normal to below-normal precipitation across much of Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 7, top). The three-month temperature outlook mostly calls for equal chances of above- or below-normal temperatures across much of the southwestern U.S. and portions of northern Mexico (Fig. 7, bottom).

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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