July 2015 Summary - Met Central - Under the Dome

"Under the Dome." That's what it seemed like out on the Sevilleta during much of July. Monsoon moisture actually arrived in NM quite early in July but it seemed to avoid the McKenzie Flats area. Rain fell on the refuge on most days during July. There were only 7 days of July with no recorded precipitation on the refuge. Despite predictions of widespread rainfall most of the storms seemed to form north of the refuge and carry up the valley into Albuquerque and points north. The west side of the refuge actually did better than the east side although the southern half of the east side did quite well. The July rainfall timing was actually quite similar to July of  last year with smaller amounts of moisture early in the month with a drier and warmer period in the middle and the biggest rainfall amounts at the very end of the month.

Temperatures ran well below average for July with only a handful of days having maximum temperatures above normal. There have been 4 years with cooler average temperatures in July. The 99.4 F recorded on both the 2nd and 26th of July were curiously the 2nd lowest July daily maximum temperature ever recorded during the LTER tenure. There were 3 days with new record low temperatures during the month.

    July Record Temperatures - High 41.4 (106.5 F), Low 5.4 (41.7 F)
    July '15 Record Temperatures - High 37.5 (99.4 F), Low 9.1 (48.4 F)

July Meteorological Summary

                          July          July '15          July '15
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
Mean Max Temp (C)         33.23          31.8          29.8 - 32.8
Mean Min Temp (C)         17.50          16.8          15.1 - 17.8
Mean Average Temp (C)     25.37          24.3          22.4 - 25.2
Mean R.H. (%)             40.8           50.9          48.7 - 53.0
Mean Vap Press. (mb)      11.61          13.71        12.55 - 14.26
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)     11.9           10.3           8.6 - 10.9
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   7.30           6.83         6.35 - 7.18
Precip.(mm)               46.2           49.1          14.0 - 57.2
*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2014

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

Big, big rain fell overnight July 6-7... 0.69" on the evening of 6th with another 1.82" through the next day with over 1.5 inches during early morning hours of the 7th. Only much small amounts hit the airport gauge during the remainder of the month although other parts of the Albuquerque area received much bigger amounts on various occasions. This all resulted in the 7th wettest July in Albuquerque's 126 year record. This actually gives ABQ almost 80% of it's normal annual rainfall. Albuquerque is obviously running well ahead of the sevilleta to date.

               Loc         Precip          Normal         % of Normal
July      	ABQ        83.3 mm         38.1 mm           219 %
                SEV        49.1 mm         46.2 mm           106 %

Year to Date    ABQ       194.9 mm        119.0 mm           164 %
                SEV       139.3 mm        115.3 mm           121 %
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Water-year Precipitation

Water year precipitation is just keeping pace with normal. This is still the best that the Sev has done at this point in the water year since 2010

    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
               163.2             177.7


The NM drought situation continued to improve through July. The Palmer Drought Index shows almost all of NM in wetter than normal status

The U.S. Drought Monitor still shows half of the state as abnormally dry and about 20% still in moderate or severe drought status. .


A very strong El Nino seems to be in the offing. Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies are already in the "strong" El Nino range and are predicted to continue to increase. This, of course, is most important if it continues thru the fall, winter and spring of 2016. This is being compared with the 1997-98 and the 1982-83 El Ninos. All El Nino indicators continue to strengthen. The Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly for the Nino 3.4 region is up to +1.7 degrees C. The Southern Oscillation Index went in the El Nino direction in July, from -0.6 to -1.1. This is the most negative that it has been since the last El Nino in 2010. If the strong El Nino pans out we could expect that the SOI could end up in the -2.5 to -3.0 range... or even lower.

Notables from on and off the Sev

The refuge seems to be a mosaic of green patches mixed with areas that still need some more moisture help. The Mckensie Flats are seems to be the area that could use additional rain. The most notable green on McKensie Flats is where the P-dog plots were burned.

July 9th! It's certainly not every day that there is a tornado warning issued for the Sevilleta. Curiously it looked impressive as captured by Jon Erz but didn't cause much of an effect at any of our weather stations.


Quiet in the Atlantic but Hurricane Dolores in the eastern Pacific created considerable havoc in Southern California on July 18-19. While rain is virtually non-existent in southern CA during the summer, moisture off of Dolores poured into that region. San Diego received more rain than in the past 100 Julys COMBINED.- 1.65" at Lindberg Field. This led to considerable flooding, even washing out a bridge on I-10 that closed off all eastbound traffic. There are predictions that the growing El Nino might very well cause more of this in the upcoming months. NM has benefited from from moisture off of tropical storms in a similar manner... most notably on Sep 20 and 21st, 1997 when the Sev got over 80 mm of rain courtesy of Hurricane Linda.

The west is burning up. Numerous large fires have ignited and are racing out of control through most of the states west of NM and CO. Northern CA has the biggest problem with 29 large fires burning as of today(Aug 5).  Over 3500 fire fighters are fighting a singe fire (Rocky) that is only 45% contained.  This fight has already cost over 31 million dollars.

August Forecast

Of course July and August nominally tie for the two wettest months of the year in NM with a combined average total of 88 mm on the Sev. This is about a third of the annual total. NOAA is predicting that July's wetter and cooler than normal conditions should carry on into August as well as into the next 3 months as well. August temperatures virtually always are cooler than those in July although very hot days with temperatures over 100 F do occur - we have already had 2 this month. NOAA is predicting that it is more likely that temperatures will be cooler than normal for all of NM.

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