March 2011- Record warm and almost record dry March
April 6, 2011
A storm on March 8th dropped very small amounts of precipitation in many of the gauges on the Sevilleta that prevented a total shut-out. An average of 0.6 mm puts this March in second place for driest March since 1989 only to be beat out by a completely dry March in 2002, the driest on Sev record. February 2002 was also totally dry, so 2002 holds the record for the driest February and March with zero precipitation. However, the 1.5 mm total for the first 3 months of this year makes it the driest start of a calendar year the in Sev's 23 year history.
While March rain ran below normal, the Sevilleta temperatures ran well above normal for almost the entire month. There were only 7 days during the month that the daily high was below average. Surprisingly there were only 2 days that set new daily high temperature records. Both the average daily high temperature and the mean daily mean temperature were records. The average nighttime low was only the 2nd warmest; 2004 still holds the record for the warmest. Neither monthly record was threatened.
- March Record Temperatures - High 30.1 (86.2 F), Low -21.5 (-6.7 F)
- March '11 Record Temperatures - High 27.3 (81.1 F), Low -11.5 (11.3 F)
Sev winds maxed out at 52 mph on the 21st.
March Meteorological Summary
March March '11 March '11 Variable Long-term* Mean Mean Mean Range ------------------------------------------------------------------- Mean Max Temp (C) 17.66 21.0 18.1 - 22.1 Mean Min Temp (C) 0.54 2.4 -1.1 - 4.4 Mean Average Temp (C) 9.10 11.7 10.5 - 13.1 Mean R.H. (%) 37.0 21.4 20.4 - 23.0 Mean Vap Press. (mb) 3.94 2.78 2.68 - 2.85 Mean Max Wind (m/sec) 9.8 11.4 10.5 - 12.9 Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2) 5.76 6.78 6.37 - 7.32 Precip.(mm) 15.7 0.6 0.0 - 1.3 --------------------------------------------------------------------- *Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2010
Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison
Albuquerque's airport gauge saw only traces of precipitation (<0.01") during March. This ties with 7 other years with only trace amounts - the last was 2002. It was also tied for third (with 2004) for the warmest March in Albuquerque's 1892-present record.
Loc Precip Normal % of Normal ===================================================================== March ABQ Trace 14.7 mm 0 % SEV 0.6 mm 15.7 mm 8 % Year to Date ABQ 2.8 mm 38.4 mm 7 % SEV 1.5 mm 33.1 mm 5 % ==================================================================== Remember to check National Weather Service Monthly highlights at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/climate/Monthlyreports/March/2011/index.php
Water year precipitation is now running at 36% of normal. This is still only the 3rd driest start to a Sev water year. 1996 and 2006 hold 1st (25.9 mm) and 2nd (27.7 mm) place. The November through March 6.9 mm total is the lowest for any 5-month period in our 1989 to present record.
Water year Precipitation
1989-2010 Month Mean 2009-2011 =========================================== Oct 10 22.7 23.2 Nov 10 13.3 0.4 Dec 10 13.4 5.0 Jan 11 8.4 0.1 Feb 11 9.0 0.8 Mar 11 15.7 0.6 ========================================== Total 82.7 30.1
The drought conditions continue to expand in New Mexico. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows over 92% of the state under drought conditions. The projection is for this to persist and or increase.
Palmer Drought Index depicts a little less grim situation.
Rio Grande flow predictions continue to decline. Elephant Butte level has dropped to 36% of average.
La Nina continues to weaken but we are not seeing much relief here in the SW. Sea surface temperatures (SST) in the Nino3.4 zone are down to -0.8 which is only considered a weak La Nina. The Ocean Nino Index (ONI) which is the 3-month mean for the the Nino3.4 zone is still at -1.2 after bottoming out at -1.4. The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) dropped from +2.7 to +2.5 but the 5-month running mean continued to rise to +2.34 which is the second highest in our 1914 to present record. The models split on where ENSO will go after the summer. The projections average out to almost exactly neutral.
Notables from on and off the Sev
Not much green out on the refuge.
The creosote bush death watch continues. It is still hard to visually determine the entire extent. Even though the leaves remain green on the shrubs, many of them are dead, brittle and fall off when squeezed. The spring winds have done little to dislodge them.
In my heating degree day (HDD) diatribe in last month's Met Central, I pointed out that for Albuquerque the HDD was 774 degree days for February which was 104 above normal. The total for March was 360 which was 165 below normal. The total for winter is 408 degree days below normal.
An earthquake (9.0 on the Richter scale), 5th strongest in modern times caused a Tsunami that devastated east central Japan on March 11. Release of radioactivity from damaged nuclear power plants is being transported around the world on global air currents. The fact that the damaged plant is on the east coast of Japan means that much of the dispersed radiation will pass over considerable amounts of ocean which will allow fallout and/or rainout of much of the material before reaching densely populated parts of the globe.
Despite the seemingly logical link between global warming and increased hurricane activity, 2010's hurricane season was virtually the mildest on record. On average there are 92 tropical storms per year. Last year there were only 67. Granted, the Atlantic saw its third most active season since 1851 but both the western and eastern Pacific had their quietest year on record. The one number that does pop out is the number of strong hurricanes (Category 4 and 5), 14 compared to the average 13.
The CSU group continues to predict a well above average hurricane season for the Atlantic this year.
Same old story - NOAA says higher chances of drier and warmer than normal weather in April. After being wrong on temperatures for January and February, NOAA finally got March right.