December 2014 Met Central - Very warm early Very cold late

December had about 3 distinct parts . Early December was extremely warm with daytime highs running near or above 60o F for the first 12 days of the month with one new daily record high set on the 3rd. Then temperatures tumbled back down near normal with a few more warm excursions until Christmas day. Then some really cold air arrived and stuck around through the end of the year. This cold air brought an average daily high equal to the long-term average daily low (22o F) on Dec 31st. The last two days of the month set new daily low records... but never reached 0o F. Ultimately this December was tied for the 4th warmest December in the 1989-2014 record

    December Record Temperatures - High 23.4 (74.1), Low -20.8 (-5.4 F)
    December '14 Record Temperatures - High 20.3 (68.5 F), Low -16.7 (1.9 F)

December moisture seemed to steer away from the Sevilleta. Most of the moisture went through the northern part of the state. The refuge average was 9.7 mm with most of this coming during the early warm portion of the month. Long-term average December precipitation on the Sevilleta is 14 mm.

November Meteorological Summary

                       December       December '14       December '14
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Mean Max Temp (C)          9.61          10.4           8.1 - 11.5
Mean Min Temp (C)         -5.21          -3.3          -5.9 - 1.1
Mean Average Temp (C)      2.20           3.5           2.6 - 4.6
Mean R.H. (%)             54.4           58.4          55.9 - 64.4
Mean Vap Press. (mb)       3.81           4.59         4.43 - 5.30
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)      8.2            8.1           8.0 - 9.2
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   3.09           3.11         3.87 - 3.30
Precip.(mm)               14.0            9.7           5.1 - 23.4
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*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2013

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

Unlike at the Sev, December turned out to be a quite good month for Albuquerque with regards to precipitation. A series of storms early in the month pushed the monthly total near the top 10 for the ABQ 1895-present record. With 12.7 mm (0.50") of moisture being the average Dec input, the 29 mm that ABQ saw this year almost pushed the yearly total to normal. This is still the 7th year in a row that the Albuquerque calendar year total precipitation has run below normal.

		Loc        Precip 	  Normal 	% of Normal
=====================================================================
December      	ABQ        29.0 mm         12.7 mm           220 %
                SEV         9.7 mm         14.0 mm            53 %

Year to Date    ABQ       223.5 mm        240.0 mm            93 %
                SEV       204.0 mm        238.0 mm            86 %
=====================================================================
Remember to check National Weather Service Monthly highlights at:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/climate/Monthlyreports/December/DEC2014/December2014.htm

Water-year Precipitation

Water year continues to fall further below below normal. The good news is that the Sev is still running wetter than the start of the last 2 water years.

    Water Year Precipitation (mm)
               1989-2014
Month           Mean            2014-2015    
===========================================
Oct             23.0              16.6 
Nov 11.3 11.5 Dec 14.0 9.7 =========================================== 48.3 37.8

Drought

The drought situation is generally holding steady for NM. The recent January precipitation will probably help in certain parts of the state.

The down side is that the snow pack at almost all of the NM SNOTEL sites around New Mexico are still running below normal for the year.


ENSO

Weak El Nino conditions continue to be in place. There have now been 2 consecutive 3-month periods with an Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) greater than 0.5. The most recent ONI was +0.7. We still need to have this trend continue at least through March to qualify as a "true El Nino". In a similar manner the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) actually went up from -0.9 in November to -0.6 in December which is less El Ninoish but the 5-month running mean went from -0.62 to -0.70 which is the direction of strengthening El Nino.

Notables from on and off the Sev

Pineapple Express hit CA on Dec 12 dropping inches of rain and triggering numerous mudslides. This seemed to have minimal impact on the CA drought situation. This Storm had lost most of its punch by the time that it hit NM.


December Forecast

NOAA continues to be optimistic for our chances of above average precipitation during January as well as for the entire Jan-Mar period. Temperatures are given equal chances of being above or below normal for January.

D.M.

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