March 2016 Met Central - Driest March on Record

If we thought February was a poor example of a strong El Nino
February, March was even more underwhelming - driest March in the NM
long-term record. March's are typically wetter than February's and in
certain cases very much wetter. For example the wettest March in
Albuquerque's long term record was 1998... the last super El Nino.
Not only was March entirely dry across the Sevilleta, the last
precipitation on all of the met stations on the Sev was back on Feb
1st. Since the end of March that was 59 days with virtually no moisture
on most of the refuge. This was only the 2nd March in the Sev LTER
record with no precipitation; the other was 2002 which actually had a
totally dry February as well.


March temperatures
stuck with the warmer than normal routine. March
temperatures started high with new record daily high temperature
records being set on the 2nd, 4th, and 5th. So this March was tied
with 1997 as having the 2nd highest average daytime high temperatures.
March also had the 3rd warmest average daily temperatures in the 27
year record. One new daily record low was actually set on the 24th.

    March Record Temperatures - High 30.1 (86.1 F), Low -21.5 (-6.7 F)
    March '16 Record Temperatures - High 26.4 (79.5 F), Low -10.5 (13.1 F)

March Meteorological Summary

                       March       March '16       March '16
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Mean Max Temp (C)         17.98          20.1          17.1 - 21.1
Mean Min Temp (C)          0.68           1.7          -2.0 - 4.2
Mean Average Temp (C)      9.33          10.9           9.6 - 12.4
Mean R.H. (%)             35.5           24.4          22.8 - 26.9
Mean Vap Press. (mb)       3.82           2.98         2.91 - 3.05
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)     10.8           11.1          10.7 - 12.3
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   5.84           6.46         6.03 - 7.13
Precip.(mm)               13.4            0.0           0.0 - 0.0
---------------------------------------------------------------------
*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2015

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

Albuquerque ended up in almost the same situation as the Sevilleta
with 3 days with trace (<.01 amounts="" of="" rain.="">

Albuquerque set one new daily high temperature record (Mar 22) and one
new high minimum temperature record (Mar 6). It was also the 9th
warmest March in Albuquerque's record.

               Loc         Precip          Normal         % of Normal
=====================================================================
March      	ABQ           T mm         14.5 mm            0 %
                SEV         0.0 mm         13.4 mm            0 %

Year to Date    ABQ        10.7 mm         36.3 mm            29 %
                SEV        10.2 mm         29.2 mm            35 %
=====================================================================
Remember to check National Weather Service Monthly highlights at:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/climate/Monthlyreports/March/JJA2016/February2016.htm

Water-year Precipitation

Thanks to the fall moisture the water year total is still on the plus
side of the ledger - 119% of normal

     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
Mar		13.4		   0.0
===========================================
                77.6		  92.7  
     

Drought

Not surprisingly, there was a big change in the drought status in NM
during March. From the start of the month when the
The U.S. Drought Monitor deemed that no portion of the state was under drought
conditions and only 32% of the state was abnormally dry the Drought
Monitor now considers about 22% of the state under moderate drought
conditions and all but less than 1% abnormally dry

El Nino

Last month I said to not panic. Well now it might be time to start
to panic. While April and Mays during El Nino's typically provide
above average precipitation the success of prognostication for this El
Nino has not been encouraging.

El Nino indicators remain decidedly on the high end of the spectrum
but have shown considerable slippage. The Ocean Nino Index for
Jan/Feb/Mar was down to 2.0 from 2.2 from the previous month.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) made a huge shift toward neutral,
going from -2.0 in February to -0.1 in March. The 5-month showed less
of a move and is now -1.08.

Aside from the fact that this El Nino has not been kind to our area
during these recent months when it normally is is, the fact that super
El Ninos virtually always go right into La Nina's in the next year.
In fact the last super El Nino of 1997-98 was followed by three
successive years of La Nina.

Notables from on and off the Sev

Things are starting to green up across the refuge. Grasses are
showing green and annuals and perennials are starting to take off
with some already flowering

Bosque fire near La Joya - started mid afternoon Mar 20 - burned over
night. There was also a fire near Ruidoso that started on Mar 28th
but was contained at 125 acres.

Road work has expanded on McKenzie Flats.

April Forecast

We have already seen some April showers. Curiously the average
precipitation on the Sev for April (11.6 mm) actually averages less
than that for March (13.4 mm). That won't be the case this year. The
last time the Sev saw an average April was 2012.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is going to persevere and says that
April will be wetter than normal. Looks like they might be right for a
change.

D.M

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