Southwest Climate Outlook May 2011

Date issued

May Climate Summary

Drought– Drought conditions have continued to intensify across Arizona and New Mexico during the past 30 days, with exceptional drought expanding across much of southern New Mexico. Extreme and exceptional drought now occupies about 16 and 65 percent of Arizona and New Mexico, respectively.

Temperature– Temperatures are within 2 degrees F of average, with the northern counties of Arizona and New Mexico generally cooler than average and the southern counties generally warmer than average.

Precipitation– The southern halves of Arizona and New Mexico have received less than 2 percent of average precipitation during the last 30 days.

ENSO– Sea-surface temperatures continued to warm this past month across the eastern Pacific and the La Niña event has officially ended. Neutral conditions are expected to persist through the upcoming summer season.

Climate Forecasts– Temperature outlooks call for greater than a 50 percent chance of warmer-than-average conditions in the Southwest through the summer; monsoon precipitation forecasts call for an equal likelihood of near-, above-, and below-average precipitation.

The Bottom Line–A record-setting dry winter in parts of the Southwest has led to widespread and intense drought conditions that are fueling increased fire activity. The next few months are typically dry and forecasts call for warmer-than-average conditions, making parts of the region still vulnerable to wildland fires. To date, nearly 1,000 fires have burned 425,000 acres in Arizona and New Mexico this year. The risk of fire and the effect of other drought impacts likely will continue to mount until the monsoon season begins. While the official monsoon outlook forecasts equal chances for above-, below-, and near-average precipitation, there is reason for optimism. Generally, dry winters are followed by wet summers, although this pattern has not always held true.

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.