December 2016 Met Central - Quite Good Moisture for a La Nina Year

Early December was mostly dry on the Sevilleta. Storms followed a
typical La Nina pattern with most of them going north of NM. Then
mid-month and again just before Christmas there were a couple of
warmer and wetter storms that rolled through the state giving the
Sevilleta a couple of good shots of moisture - mostly rain. This
provided the refuge with about its normal December precipitation.
Finally a storm on 31st delivered moisture that pushed the average up
by about half again above normal. This resulted in the 4th wettest
December in the 1989-present record The first big story of December
was the monster storm event at the beginning of the month.

This figure
shows how all months fared across during 2016 preciptation wise.

It was a bit of a roller coaster ride for temperatures during December
December started cold but warmed up toward the middle of the month. A
couple of daily high temperature records were broken around the middle
of the month and then after a colder period a couple more daily highs
were threatened near Christmas time. Ultimately December continued
the warmer than normal trend that has been the case since back in
August. While the average daytime highs were not exceptional, night
time lows were the 2nd warmest in the 28 year Sevilleta record and
average daytime average temperatures were the 3rd warmest for that
same period.

    December Record Temperatures - High 23.4 (74.1 F), Low -20.8 (-5.4 F)
    December '16 Record Temperatures - High 20.2 (68.6 F), Low -12.1 (10.2 F

December Meteorological Summary

                  December      December '16      December '16
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
Mean Max Temp (C)          9.62           11.2          9.1 - 12.0
Mean Min Temp (C)         -5.12           -2.7         -5.2 - 0.8
Mean Average Temp (C)      2.25            4.3          3.4 - 5.0
Mean R.H. (%)             54.5            55.8         52.4 - 58.8
Mean Vap Press. (mb)       3.83            4.45        4.09 - 4.62
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)      9.3             9.0          8.5 - 9.8
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   3.09            3.09        2.83 - 3.40
Precip.(mm)               14.1            23.1         19.8 - 29.9
*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2015

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

While Albuquerque did not keep up with the Sev for December it still
came in with almost 2 times it s expect normal precipitation. For the
year to date, the Sevilleta pulled much further ahead of Albuquerque.
While the Sevilleta might reach normal with a second record month,
there is really no chance of that for Albuquerque.

Albuquerque came in tied as the 11th warmest Dec in its 1893-present record.

               Loc         Precip          Normal         % of Normal
December	ABQ	   13.0 mm	   12.7 mm	     102 % 
		SEV 	   23.1 mm 	   14.1 mm 	     164 %

Year to Date    ABQ       169.6 mm        240.0 mm            71 %
                SEV       214.4 mm        239.9 mm            89 %
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Water-year Precipitation

Between the record November and the wetter than normal December the
water-year total is now running at 1 1/2 times normal. This is
unusual for a La Nina winter.

    Water Year Precipitation (mm)

Month           Mean            2016-2017    
Oct             22.2               5.1       
Nov             11.2              45.1
Dec		14.1		  23.1
                47.5		  73.3      


The drought situation in NM has continued to improve.
According tothe U.S. Drought Monitor there is still a little over 4% of NM that
is classified as being under drought status. Over 66% of the state is
now considered free from any dryer than normal designation (including
all of the Sev) which is up from 46% at the end of November.

The Palmer Drought Index
shows none of New Mexico being under drought
status and the west and northwest running wetter than normal.

SNOTEL sites in northern NM show mostly at or above normal for snow
pack depths to date but virtually all sites in southern NM are showing
snow packs below or even well below normal. The fact that all of the
SNOTEL sites in the Rio Grande Basin in southern Colorado are showing
above to well above snow packs. This may bode well for the Rio Grande
Spring runoff.

El Nino

La Nina conditions continue but indicators are still fairly weak The
predictions now say that we will be in a weak La Nina through the
early part of 2017.

The Sea Surface Temperature anomaly for the key 3.4 Nino zone was -0.4
at the end of the month but the Ocean Nino Index (ONI) held steady at
-0.8 for the second consecutive month. The cut off for La Nina is

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) for December roamed from -0.1 on
November to +0.3 in December. The 5-month running mean remains in the
neutral zone at +0.36.

Notables from on and off the Sev

Tumble weeds are beginning to migrate across McKenzie Flats. These
seem to be trying to escape through the gate at U.S. 60.

In addition to the year end storm there was a little more precipitation
on Jan 1 so roads and the soil surface were still wet on Jan 2nd.
To dodge any "rut-maker" finger pointing I will say that the the road
out to the met station south of the Rio Salado had already been badly
rutted up by people working on the power line thru the Rio Salado.

November Revisited


I will preface this by warning that no one should try driving to the
Sevilleta West Mesa until further notice.
A washed out culvert
and a 2 ft. tall rock dam across the wash/road
hindered and then foiled passage to my Hobo rain gauge on West Mesa.
It seems that the consequences of the big storm of Nov 3-4 were even
greater than previously reported. While the 4 complete weather
stations on the west side got an average of 50.7 mm for the 2-day
storm with a maximum of 61.4 mm at the Sierra Ladron station it turns
out that the biggest inputs on the refuge came on the southern edge
of the west side. With the Hobo rain gauge on West Mesa inaccessible
my second rain gauge about half-way there reported a 2-day total of
79.7 mm (3.13") It is possible that the West Mesa gauge recorded even

Just as a side note, the December precipitation was notably quite
uniform across the refuge with a range of 19.1 to 23.9 mm. The
exception was actually this same Hobo gauge mentioned above with a
total of 38.6 mm.

January Forecast

NOAA is predicting that most of NM will have a better than average
chance of being warmer than normal during January. With regards to
precipitation a small wedge northwestern NM has a better chance of
being wetter than normal while a little larger wedge in the opposite
corner (SE) is predicted to be drier than normal.

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