Southwest Climate Outlook October 2014

Date issued

Precipitation: Persistent tropical storm activity in the past 30 days boosted precipitation, even while the monsoon was waning. Above-average precipitation was recorded in the southern half of Arizona and New Mexico during this time period, while the northern portions of the region saw more inconsistent (and often below-average) precipitation totals.

Temperature: Most of Arizona and New Mexico were warmer than average in the past 30 days, especially the northern half of both states. Temperatures in the southern half were more variable, as tropical storms brought pulses of cooler and wetter air into the region, countering the elevated temperatures and drying out associated with the end of the monsoon.

Water Supply: In Arizona, total reservoir storage dropped by 69,000 acre-feet (AF) in September, putting total reservoir capacity at 46 percent (compared to 48 percent last year). In New Mexico, there was a small increase of 28,000 AF in total reservoir storage, putting the total reservoir capacity for September at 22 percent--a 1 percent increase from last year. Regional water storage remains a key concern given the accumulated water deficit associated with a multi-year drought.

Drought: This year’s monsoon totals, in conjunction with tropical storm moisture, reduced the severity of short-term drought in Arizona and New Mexico. Longer-term drought persists, especially as it relates to multi-year water supply deficits. The potential for above-average precipitation associated with a likely El Niño event offers some hope for relief.

Monsoon: Seasonal monsoon precipitation totals in the past 30 days were above average in most of Arizona and New Mexico, with notable exceptions in the Four Corners region, northeastern New Mexico, and pockets of southern Arizona. These totals were affected by intense precipitation events linked to the repeated incursion of tropical storm systems, and some locations saw most of their seasonal precipitation fall in a single storm event, sometimes even in a single day.

ENSO: The latest ENSO projections forecast more than a 65 percent probability that El Niño conditions will materialize this winter, with relative certainty that this will be a weak event if and when it forms.

Tropical Storms: As predicted, the frequency and intensity of tropical storm activity in the Eastern Pacific was above average in 2014. Hurricane Amanda jumpstarted the season in May, and most early-season storms veered into the Pacific and toward Hawaii. As the season progressed, tropical storms followed the expected pattern of recurving back toward the Pacific Coast, and a number of named tropical storms drove wind and precipitation into southern Arizona and New Mexico.

Precipitation & Temperature Forecasts: Short-term outlooks indicate an increased probability of above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation for the next few weeks. Longer-term and seasonal outlooks still forecast an increased probability of wetter and colder-than-average conditions linked to the El Niño event forecast to peak by mid-winter.

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.