November 2015 Met Central - Would Have Expected More from the Building Super El Nino

With fingers crossed, I'm going to say that it looks like El Nino is still going to be good to New Mexico. However, November precipitation was not anything to write home about... at least not for the Sevilleta. The 9.0 mm refuge-wide average was less than the 11.2 mm November long-term.average There was a considerable spatial disparity across the refuge with the west side of the refuge averaging only 4.6 mm for the month while the east side averaged 12.3 mm. November is seldom a wet month in New Mexico but the southerly storm track, characteristic of El Nino's pushed several storms though the state during the month. Some of the ski areas in the northern mountains got good snowfalls allowing early openings but some of the storms were warm enough that much of the moisture came as rain so that while water year total are running well above average, snow packs are running at or below average.

Temperatures that had run way above normal during most of the fall dropped down around normal for November and ended up on the slightly below normal side of the ledger. Actually the night-time low average was still ever so slightly above normal but with the day-time highs averaging over a degree F below average the daytime average ended up below average.

    November Record Temperatures - High 28 (82.4 F), Low -17.8 (0.0 F)
    November '15 Record Temperatures - High 23.2 (73.7 F), Low -10.6 (12.9 F)

November Meteorological Summary

                       November	     November '15       November '15
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
Mean Max Temp (C)         15.27          14.4          12.0 - 15.5
Mean Min Temp (C)         -0.92          -0.7          -3.1 - 0.5
Mean Average Temp (C)      7.17           6.8           5.9 - 7.8
Mean R.H. (%)              45.2          53.1          49.9 - 57.0
Mean Vap Press. (mb)       4.33           5.09         4.85 - 5.37
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)      8.4            9.6           8.9 - 10.7
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   3.77           3.70         3.49 - 4.07
Precip.(mm)               11.2            9.0           3.0 - 26.5
*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2014

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

Albuquerque came in at virtually normal for November precipitation. This keeps Albuquuerque almost 20% above average for the year to date while the Sevilleta needs a little more than average precipitation for December to get to normal for the 2015 calendar year.

               Loc         Precip          Normal         % of Normal
November      	ABQ        14.7 mm         14.5 mm           101 %
                SEV         9.0 mm         11.2 mm            80 %

Year to Date    ABQ       271.4 mm        227.3 mm           119 %
                SEV       225.4 mm        227.6 mm            99 %
Remember to check National Weather Service Monthly highlights at:

Water-year Precipitation

With the monster October, the slight deficit for November still leaves the Sev at almost twice the it's normal expected to date.

    Water Year Precipitation (mm)
Month           Mean            2015-2016    
Oct             22.2              53.5       
Nov             11.2               9.0
                33.4		  62.5        


Drought should probably be considered gone. That is certainly what the Palmer Drought Index map is showing for New Mexico. The U.S. Drought Monitor finally took the last small blob of moderate drought along the western NM border off the map with the most recent update. However about 1/4 of the state is still denoted as abnormally dry, including Bernalillo County.  This is the first time since Nov.23, 2010 that the Drought Monitor has assessed NM with no drought.

On the hydrology, front the Rio Grande is currently running at just over twice its normal flow rate at Otowi Bridge (near Los Alamos) and at 250% of average at San Marcial (just north of Elephant Butte).  This may be good news for any refilling of Elephant Butte over the winter.  The Butte has actually gone from 15% of average volume to 19% of average volume.

El Nino

El Nino Grande is still coming. All things weather seem to be getting blamed on this El Nino. Again the ENSO indicators show that this years El Nino being in a tight race with the 1997-98 all-time record El Nino. The Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly for the Nino 3.4 region went to over +3.0 degrees during November. This brought the ONI index to +2.0_ for the Sep-Oct-Nov period. This trails only 1997 which had +2.2 for the same period Curiously he Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) went in the opposite direction as would be expected going from -1.7 in October to -05 in Nov. Remember that for the SOI more negative is more positive for El Nino. The 5-month running mean changed very little

Notables from on and off the Sev

Not much of note on the Sevilleta. Road work on some areas on the east side of the refuge have made for a smoother ride. California is still waiting for the manifestation of the super El Nino while much of Texas is hoping for a little respite from rains that have pushed rainfall totals past any previous annual totals... Dallas Fort Worth has already surpassed any previous years total.

As mentioned in a previous Met Central this fall was pretty toasty, both here and across the entire U.S. These figures show how the mean daily temperatures and the mean minumum daily temperatures ranked for the Sep Oct Nov period.


Hurricane season is officially over. The 2015 tropical storm season in the Atlantic was pretty predicted with the developing El Nino. There were 11 named storms but only 4 reached hurricane strength and of those 2 reached major hurricane strength. The most notable of those was major Hurricane Joaquin although Tropical Storm Erica caused the most fatalities (36) and a great amount of damage to the island of Dominica in the Caribbean. Surprisingly, Hurricane Kate, the 4th and final hurricane of the Atlantic season, spun up on the 9th of Nov. - very late in the season and very far north.

The eastern Pacific tropical season went to the opposite extreme with 18 named storms, 13 hurricanes with 9 of those being major hurricanes - the most major hurricanes ever for this region. Hurricane Sandy was the latest major hurricane ever in either the eastern Pacific or Atlantic.

Other tropical storm anomalies - Yemen got hit by 2 tropical cyclones within a week during early November.

December Forecast

As with all winter and early spring months, lots of moisture is not really all that much. Sevilleta average precipitation for December is only 13.9 mm (0.55"). December of the 1997-98 super El Nino easily doubled that but the wettest December of the Sev LTER history was 1991 with 71.1 mm. Probably the most memorable December was the Dec of 2006 when Albuquerque got between 12" and 26" of snow over a 3-day period at the end of that month. NOAA is predicting above average precipitation for Dec with the chances increasing more in the southern portion of the state.


Article Section: