February Met Central - February not very El Ninoish

Okay, so February was not exactly the poster-child month for what one
would have expected from a super El Nino. Snow on the very first day
of the month made it look promising but then things went off the
tracks. Actually early February was very cold with some hopes of
moisture but after the first week a huge high pressure parked itself
over the entire southwest and temperatures soared for the middle third
of the month. Seven new daily high temperature records were set in a
10-day span. Feb 18 came within a fraction of a degree F of breaking
the 27-year February record high. After a puny little storm on the
23rd that brought temperatures down for a couple of days the
temperatures once again climbed above normal and stayed there through
the remainder of the month. An eighth record high was set on Leap Day.
With large highs parked over the state the clear dry skies meant that
nighttime lows were less affected than were the day time highs. While
average daily highs averaged 4.2 degrees F warmer than normal, the
lows actually averaged 1.2 degrees cooler than normal.

    February Record Temperatures - High 26.5 (79.7 F), Low -31.3 (-24.3 F)
    February '16 Record Temperatures - High 26.3 (79.3 F), Low -16.7 (1.9 F)

All stations on the Sevilleta got at least some moisture on the first
day of the month but for most of them that was all they saw. The
Cerro Montoso station and the Blue Grama site saw a little more on the
23rd. Since February is typically such a dry month the 2.0 mm average
for the refuge was still a quarter of the expected 7.8 mm. Still this is
so much lower than the February's of many of the recent El Nino years
such as 1992 (11.9mm), 1995 (13.6 mm), 1998 (22.1 mm), 2003 (11.4 mm),
2005 (37.1 mm), 2007 (7.0 mm), and 2010 (14.5 mm). Actually the total
February precipitation 104 mm is greater than the total for the other
21 years.

February Meteorological Summary

                       February       February '16       February '16
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Mean Max Temp (C)         13.53          15.9          12.8 - 17.0
Mean Min Temp (C)         -2.78          -3.5          -8.2 - -0.5
Mean Average Temp (C)      5.37           6.2           4.4 - 7.6
Mean R.H. (%)             43.0           35.4          32.2 - 40.6
Mean Vap Press. (mb)       3.62           3.04         2.89 - 3.13
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)      9.8            8.9           8.5 - 10.0
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   4.44           4.93         4.62 - 5.12
Precip.(mm)                7.8            2.0           1.0 - 4.9
---------------------------------------------------------------------
*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2015

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

The Albuquerque airport station saw even less moisture than the Sev
during the month although the eastern part of the city received
considerably more from the storm on the 23rd.

Two new record daily high temperature were set

               Loc         Precip          Normal         % of Normal
=====================================================================
February      	ABQ         1.3 mm         12.2 mm           10 %
                SEV         2.0 mm          7.8 mm           26 %

Year to Date    ABQ        10.7 mm         21.8 mm            49 %
                SEV        10.2 mm         15.8 mm            65 %
=====================================================================
Remember to check National Weather Service Monthly highlights at:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/climate/Monthlyreports/February/JJA2016/February2016.htm

Water-year Precipitation

Despite the poor February, the Sevilleta water year continues to run well
above average... almost 145%

     Water Year Precipitation (mm)

               1989-2015
Month           Mean            2015-2016    
===========================================
Oct             23.2              53.5       
Nov             11.1               9.0
Dec		14.1		  20.0
Jan		 8.0		   8.2
Feb		 7.8		   2.0
===========================================
                64.2		  92.7            
     

Drought

The U.S. Drought Monitor boosted the area of New Mexico that is now
considered abnormally dry from about 10% a couple weeks ago to almost
a third of the state now.

The warm temperatures in February have taken a big bite out of the snow
pack across the state. In fact some SNOTEL sites are showing no snow
pack remaining.

The Butte is now at 31% of average - up from 15% back in October

El Nino

Don't panic. We are still likely to see some good out of this El Nino
March and April have often been months with very large storms that can
really boost that soil moisture. The El Nino indicators remain
decidedly on the high end of the spectrum. The Ocean Nino Index (ONI)
for the Dec-Jan-Feb period was 2.24 which is still the fourth highest
value on record.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) also remains in the strong El Nino
range, dropping from -2.2 in January to -2.0 in February. The 5-month
running mean is -1.40.

Notables from on and off the Sev

There are still lots of very small annuals and perennials hugging the
ground out on the refuge.

Still lots of road work going on on Mckenzie North

Hurricanes

The Fiji Islands in the south Pacific took a direct hit from Cyclone
Winston on Feb 20th. At the time Winston was a category 5 storm -
with sustained winds of 185 mph. This tied it for the 2nd strongest
storm in history at landfall. This will most certainly be the most
destructive event for Fiji in its history. Possibly the only good
news was the most heavily touristed areas missed the brunt of the
storm. Also, surprisingly, the death toll of 43 was smaller than might
be expected from a storm of this strength.

March Forecast

.
March can sometimes see the beginning of larger storms that could
really add to precipitation totals. For example, in March of 1998 the
Sev got 45.1 mm of precipitation which is about 4 and a half times its
expected March total.

NOAA continues to predict a wetter than normal March... and cooler
than normal for all of New Mexico.

D.M

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