October 2015 Met Central Summary - El Nino Seems To Be On Its Way

All right, that's the rain we have been waiting for. Weather-casters finally delivered on what they seemed to have been endlessly predicting. For a change the Sevilleta got it's fair share of the passing moisture. After a mostly dry start to the month a teaser storm on the 19th was the followed by a second act late on the 20th and this was followed by the main event on much of the 21st. A week later another small wave of storms added to October total. The average for the refuge was 53.5 mm (2.11") but totals at the met stations ranged from 37.8 mm to 80.3 mm. This is about 2 and a half times the Sev expected normal and probably will make it the wettest month of 2015. The last time the refuge saw this much precipitation in October was back in 2006 when the refuge got an average of 63.5 mm. The second wettest October on record for the Sevilleta was back in 2000 with 59.9 mm.

October started off with near record high temperatures, then cooled for about a week before ramping back up to set 2 new daily high temperature records on the 14th and 15th. Temperatures then dropped down to about normal and stayed near or below normal through the remainder of the month. Curiously while the high temperatures came in at exactly normal for the month the lows ran virtually at or above average for the entire month and there was not a single below-freezing temperature during the month. This makes it the warmest low temperature average for October in our 27 year record.

    October Record Temperatures - High 34.1 (93.4 F), Low -14.8 (5.3 F)
    October '15 Record Temperatures - High 33.3 (91.9 F), Low 0.1 (32.2 F)

Very strong east canyon winds overnight on October 15-16 produced gusts of 66 mph at the Albuquerque airport and 64 mph at the Blue Grama met station on the Sevilleta

October Meteorological Summary

                       October	     October '15       October '15
Variable             Long-term* Mean    Mean           Mean Range
Mean Max Temp (C)         22.40          22.4          19.7 - 23.5
Mean Min Temp (C)          5.74           8.5           7.0 - 9.8
Mean Average Temp (C)     14.07          15.4          13.6 - 16.5
Mean R.H. (%)              42.3          54.4          39.6 - 43.9
Mean Vap Press. (mb)       6.36           8.70         8.49 - 9.04
Mean Max Wind (m/sec)      8.9            9.2           8.7 - 9.7
Mean Solar Rad. (kWh/m2)   4.88           4.40         4.17 - 4.77
Precip.(mm)               22.2           53.5          37.8 - 80.3
*Long-term refers to all of the Sevilleta met stations for 1989-2014

Albuquerque - Sevilleta Comparison

Albuquerque did not get as much out of the October storms as the Sevilleta did and actually finished the month about 10% lower than a normal October. However, ABQ continues to run well above average for the calendar year. This big October pulled the Sevilleta exactly back to normal for the year.

A new daily high temperature record was set on Oct 13th in ABQ. This October tied with 1954 as the 6th warmest October on record in Albuquerque - only 0.1 degree F cooler than October of last year.

               Loc         Precip          Normal         % of Normal
October      	ABQ        23.4 mm         25.9 mm            90 %
                SEV        53.5 mm         22.2 mm           244 %

Year to Date    ABQ       256.7 mm        212.9 mm           125 %
                SEV       216.4 mm        216.5 mm           100 %
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Water-year Precipitation

October began a new water-year. Obviously the big October puts us off to an extremely quick start. On average the Sev should not expect to reach the 54 mm range until almost the end of January of 2016. We need to remember that the Sev has not had an above average water year since 2010 and during 3 of the past 5 water years the Sev did not get this recent Oct moisture until the start of the monsoons. The table below shows the average water year totals for the Sevilleta for the past 27 water-years as well as the amounts for the non-monsoon and monsoon portions of each water-year.

   Water Year Precipitation (mm)

Water Yr  Total Monsoon  Monsoon
-------   ----  -------  -------
1988-89    128   93.3      34.7
1989-90    286  155.7     130.3
1990-91    254  176.0      78.0
1991-92    372  147.7     224.3
1992-93    235  146.8      88.2
1993-94    246  147.5      98.5
1994-95    225   91.5     133.5
1995-96    218  192.6      25.4
1996-97    400  266.8     133.0
1997-98    260  136.0     124.0
1998-99    278  184.4      93.6
1999-00    194  105.1      88.5
2000-01    293  114.4     179.1
2001-02    245  188.0      57.1
2002-03    149   81.8      67.0
2003-04    292  123.8     168.6
2004-05    289   95.9     192.9
2005-06    256  226.2      29.8
2006-07    291  109.2     181.6
2007-08    210  146.2      63.5
2008-09    194  101.9      92.3
2009-10    263  130.9     132.4
2010-11    106   75.2      30.5
2011-12    187   83.5     103.2
2012-13    234  208.0      25.7
2013-14    188  151.8      36.2
2014-15	   206   89.0     116.6
Mean       241  139.6     101.1
St.Dev.    65.1  48.7      56.8 
C.V.       27.0  34.9      55.2


The October moisture had a big effect on remaining drought in New Mexico. The U.S. Drought Monitor finally stopped classifying The Sevilleta area as abnormally dry. Only 7% of the state is still classified as being in drought. The Palmer Drought Severity Index shows most of NM as being wetter than normal


The super El Nino shows no signs of flagging.. The Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomaly for the Nino 3.4 region started October at +2.4 and ended the month at +2.8.  The Oceanic Nino Index (ONI) has continued to rise and is now at +1.7.  This continues to track the super El Nino of 1997-98 when the the ONI was at +2.0 at this point.

The Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) also continued in the El Nino direction in October as well, going from -1.6 to -1.7. The 5-month running mean is -1.28, the lowest that it has been since 1998.

Notables from on and off the Sev

Vegetation has shown minimal response to the recent rain although the Creosote has shifted to a brighter green.

I'm not sure if was wind or hail or both that caused considerable amount of green foliage to come off both the Pinons and the Junipers at Cerro Montoso site. Wind might be the most likely culprit as a couple of dead pinons got toppled over as well.

A Thousand year rain event out in the Carolinas began at the end of September. The rainfall amounts are being reported by feet rather than inches in some locations. Charleston and Columbia were hit very hard.


There were a couple of notable hurricanes during October - one in each bordering ocean. In the Atlantic Hurricane, Joaquin took an unusual track that backed it south into the Bahamas at major hurricane strength and while pummeling some of the islands also sank a large container ship with all hands lost. When Joaquin reversed course and headed back north, for a time it was thought that it might make landfall somewhere on the U.S. east coast but instead tracked well eastern seaboard.

In the Pacific Hurricane Patricia spun up into the strongest hurricane on record in a matter of hours just off the west coast of Mexico. Fortunately the topography and sparseness of population in the area of landfall resulted in much lower devastation than predicted. On the other hand moisture form Patricia got carried it to south Texas resulting in massive rain fall and subsequent flooding

November Forecast

November is rarely a big player in the winter precipitation game at the Sevilleta. The 26-year average for the Sevilleta is 11.2 mm (0.44") The biggest November's at the Sevilleta were 1994 (32.9 mm) and 1991 (32.0 mm) - both El Nino Novembers. However the El Nino link to November precipitation is still tenuous as the Sev total for 1997 was only 5.2 mm. Well I will finally have to give NOAA credit for getting the wetter than normal part of their October prediction correct. However the cooler than normal still did not pan out.

So NOAA is sticking with a wetter than normal prediction for November and the western portion of the state is supposed to run cooler than normal yet again.

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