August 2015 Summary - Met Central - Driest August Yet

The seemingly promising monsoon just never developed... at least not at the Sevilleta. Despite sufficient moisture in the atmosphere for most of the month, convective thunderstorms could never seem to pass over the refuge. This resulted in a record dry August. There was actually measurable rain on the refuge on 18 days during the month but only one of them was greater than 10 mm and refuge-wide daily averages were all less than 5 mm. As is generally the case with reduced precipitation the Sevilleta saw higher than normal temperatures. There were 5 days of +100 high temperatures and 5 new record daily highs set as well... also 1 new low temperature record.

    August Record Temperatures - High 39.4 (102.9 F), Low 5.0 (41.1 F)
    August '15 Record Temperatures - High 38.4 (101.1 F), Low 10.4 (51.6 F)

August Meteorological Summary

                       August        August '15        August '15
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
Mean Max Temp (C)         31.67          33.4          30.9 - 34.5
Mean Min Temp (C)         16.53          16.9          15.1 - 18.2
Mean Average Temp (C)     24.10          25.2          23.0 - 26.3
Mean R.H. (%)             46.9           41.4          39.5 - 43.5
Mean Vap Press. (mb)      12.68          11.81        10.90 - 12.24
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)      9.9           10.2           8.4 - 10.7
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   6.67           6.95         6.43 - 7.33
Precip.(mm)               42.2           17.2          11.6 - 29.0
*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2014

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

Despite the Sevilleta's poor Auigust, Albuquerque actually did worse although I'm sure there were locations throughout the Metro region that did better than the official gauge at the airport. This makes it the 10th driest August in Albuquerques's 1893-present record... replacing 2013. Thanks to its rainy July, Albuquerque is still doing much better than the Sev for the calendar year.

This August also tied 2005 as the 11th warmest August on record. There have also been 5 other Augusts that had warmer average temperatures during August during the 1989-present LTER period.

               Loc         Precip          Normal         % of Normal
August      	ABQ         8.1 mm         40.1 mm            20 %
                SEV        17.2 mm         42.2 mm            41 %

Year to Date    ABQ       203.0 mm        159.5 mm           127 %
                SEV       152.2 mm        157.5 mm            97 %
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Water-year Precipitation

Need a better than average September to finish the water year on the plus-side of the ledger. Sev's September normal precipitation is 36.8 mm. This year we need 52.2... more than any month so far this water year. Then again, the Sev got 54.9 mm last September and 73.8 mm in 2013.

    Water Year Precipitation (mm)

Month           Mean            2013-2015    
Oct             23.0               6.4       
Nov             11.3               7.2
Dec		14.0		   9.7
Jan		 7.4		  20.8
Feb		 8.1		   4.8
Mar 		14.1		   6.3
Apr             11.9		  10.9
May		12.4		  36.0
Jun             14.8		  12.0
Jul		46.2		  49.1
Aug		42.2		  17.2
               205.4             194.9


The Sevilleta actually needs an even bigger September to get to normal for the monsoon season. To reach the 142 mm monsoon average will require a refuge-wide average of almost 64 mm. Again there are a handful of years that have had that kind of September. Those include 1990 (69.4 mm), 1997 (106.8mm), 2002 (74.1 mm), as well as 2013 (73.8 mm).


The NM drought situation appears to have held steady or improved during August. The Palmer Drought Index shows all of NM as in normal or in wetter than normal status

The U.S. Drought Monitor Despite the poor August the U.S. Drought Monitor reduced the area of the state with moderate drought from about 20% down to 13% and the small portion that was still under severe drought at the start of August went away. Half of the state is still classified as abnormally dry - western half. .


A super El Nino continues to develop. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is now placing the chances of El Nino continuing through the end of the year at almost 100% and at 70% through the spring of 2016. The Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly for the Nino 3.4 region started August at +1.7 degrees C and ended August at 2.2. This is being compared with the 1997-98 and the 1982-83 El Ninos.  The Ocean Nino Index (ONI) for Jun-Jul-Aug was 1.2.  This is the highest that it has been this early since 1997 - the lead-in to the monster El Nino or 1998.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) continued in the El Nino direction in August, from -1.1 to -1.4

Notables from on and off the Sev

Vegetation greenness on the Sevilleta is spotty. Some areas near Black Butte are fairly green and areas near Five Points and on south such as Valle de la Joja are looking quite green while other areas particularly near Deep Well are looking pretty bad.

One place that is not looking very green is on Nunn Flats. A small fire consumed about 10 acres just across the road from last years burn. It apparently ignited several hundred meters west of Nunn road and burned due east and put itself out at the road. Fish and Wildlife weren't exactly sure when this happened. This area was prescribe burned back in 2002.

Smoke haze in ABQ, particularly on 23rd and 24th - from fires out west in CA and WA. At one point there were over 100 "large" (>200 acres) fires burning in the western U.S. Virtually all fire-fighting resources were expended and National Guard and fire fighters from Australia had been put into the fight. As of Aug 31 the number of large fires had dropped to 69... none in the Southwest Region.


A little more tropical storm activity developed in the Atlantic during August. Hurricane Danny reached major hurricane strength in mid Atlantic but got beaten apart before reaching the Antilles. Then Tropical Storm Erika caused some damage to some Caribbean islands before getting shredded apart over Hispanola but still brought considerable amount of rain to Florida and southeastern U.S. Hurricane Fred was notable from the standpoint that, as it is termed a Cape Verde storm, it actually hit the Cape Verde islands. Usually these storms develop West if their namesakes. Fred certainly will never get near any American land A lot more tropical storm activity in the Pacific. A record 3 major hurricanes were churning in the eastern Pacific at one time at the end of August. Also a tropical depression south of Baja is predicted to become Tropical Storm Kevin but is currently pushing some moisture into the SW.

September Forecast

NOAA is continuing to predict cooler and definitely a wetter for September. That would be more reassuring if they had not predicted the same thing for the previous two months

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