Southwest Climate Outlook March 2010

Date issued

March Climate Summary
Drought– Drought conditions continued to improve across the Southwest, and most of southern Arizona and New Mexico are either only abnormally dry or drought free.
Temperature– A series of cold fronts in February and March brought cooler conditions to the Southwest.
Precipitation– Most of the Southwest remains much wetter than average with significant snowpack as the strong El Niño circulation continues.
ENSO– Moderate El Niño conditions persisted across the equatorial Pacific Ocean again this month and are expected to continue over the next month or two. The chance of ENSO-neutral conditions returning increases by later this spring.
Climate Forecasts– Historical temperature trends contribute to warm seasonal outlooks—there is more than a 50 percent chance that temperatures during the May–July and July–September periods will be similar to the warmest 10 years of
the 1971–2000 record. Precipitation outlooks for the April–June period indicate slightly elevated chances that conditions in northern Arizona and New Mexico will be similar to the wettest 10 years of the 1971–2000 period.
The Bottom Line– El Niño once again helped steer winter storms into Arizona and New Mexico. Profuse snow and rain continued to improve drought conditions, build snowpack, and increase projections of spring streamflows. Snowpack is nearly twice the historic average in many high elevation regions in Arizona and many reservoirs in the state are more than 88 percent full; Roosevelt Lake reached record high levels on March 12. El Niño may continue to bring wet weather, as forecasts suggest the event will likely continue through April. While rain and snow have improved winter vegetation growth, summer growth will need a healthy monsoon season. In other words, short-term drought conditions can come and go rapidly.

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.