Southwest Climate Outlook July 2022

Date issued

Monthly/Seasonal Precipitation and Temperature: June precipitation was between average and much above average in Arizona and between average and record wet in most of New Mexico (Fig. 1a). June temperatures were above average to much above average in Arizona and New Mexico (Fig. 1b). Water year precipitation is mostly below average or drier in most of Arizona and New Mexico with some early monsoon activity (Fig. 1a) helping boost water year totals (Fig. 2).

Drought: The Jul 5 U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) shows decreases in categorical severity of drought characterizations in New Mexico following early monsoon activity (Fig. 3). Despite the local improvement, drought conditions are still found across the entire southwestern United States. Long term accumulated precipitation deficits are a factor in these designations. The early start to the monsoon in June helped with local conditions, but the region is yet to see sustained above average monsoon activity, which even if it occurs is unlikely to reverse long term drought conditions.

Water Supply: Most of the reservoirs in Arizona and New Mexico are at or below the values recorded at this time last year. Most are also below their long-term average (see reservoir storage for Arizona and New Mexico). The tier one shortage declaration for the Colorado River in 2022 and low water levels in the Rio Grande highlight ongoing concerns about the intersection of long-term drought and water resource management.

Wildfire: Fire season to date has been well above average in New Mexico, and closer to average in Arizona (Fig. 4). The onset of the monsoon tends to tamp down (but not eliminate) wildfire risk, and the NIFC fire outlooks for August reflect this shift back to ‘normal’ fire risk for Arizona and most of New Mexico (Fig. 5).

ENSO Tracker: ENSO remains at La Niña status according to most outlooks. Previously, the forecast consensus was on a transition to ENSO-neutral conditions by summer, but there are now indications of the potential for La Nina to persist into fall and winter (see ENSO-tracker for details).

Monsoon: Early storms in June boosted totals (Fig. 6) and percent of normal to above average levels, especially in New Mexico and pockets of central Arizona (see Monsoon Tracker for details). Favorable atmospheric patterns suggest activity could pick up over the next few weeks, especially in Arizona, but there are no guarantees, and the persistence of La Niña would suggest fewer opportunities for Eastern Pacific Tropical Storms to supplement late season monsoon totals.

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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