El Nino express has arrived. Two big storms hit New Mexico during December. The Sevilleta actually benefited more from the first storm on the 12th and 13th of the month that was a combination of rain and then snow. The second storm that arrived on the 26th and came in very cold and windy. The Sevilleta got considerably more of the snow than Albuquerque did but got nothing like the blizzard that hit the eastern side of the state.
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.
Aside from the first frost on the windshield in the morning, the second most defining indicator of the arrival of fall is when all the leaves of the mulberry trees coming raining down after the first real frost of the year. That was this morning (Nov 12)in my neighborhood. While Albuquerque had officially seen its first freeze back on Nov 6 the first leaf- clearing frost did not come until last night
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.
September just never got the memo that fall was supposed to be on its way. There were a couple of cooler periods during the month but most of the month ran above average... or well above average. In fact the highest temperature on the Sev came on Sep 27th. The refuge-wide average daily high temperature only ran below normal on 3 days during the month.
Deadly flood-producing rain in southern Utah, inches of rain in portions of SoCal. So where is our share. Granted the 5 minute rain storm yesterday afternoon dropped almost up to 0.2" of rain in some parts of Albuquerque but the total at the Sunport was only 0.04" bringing the official Albuquerque total to 0.10" (2.5 mm) for the month.
The seemingly promising monsoon just never developed... at least not at the Sevilleta. Despite sufficient moisture in the atmosphere for most of the month, convective thunderstorms could never seem to pass over the refuge. This resulted in a record dry August. There was actually measurable rain on the refuge on 18 days during the month but only one of them was greater than 10 mm and refuge-wide daily averages were all less than 5 mm.
"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.
Well it's time to close the book on this years monsoon. I should have kept my email mouth shut. The monsoon turned out to be even stealthier than I thought. Apparently a storm hit in the vicinity of Black Butte last Wed. July 29th and dropped a tidy 30.2 mm (1.19") in the rain gauge attached to a partial met station that is not linked into the wireless network. So this came as a surprise when I pulled the data yesterday.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, this year's monsoon has not officially begun... at least not on the Sevilleta... at least not according to my criteria. Lots of moisture has been reported throughout the rest of NM but the Sev seems to be living under a dome. Granted there has been some rain somewhere on the Sev on every day but 3 this month but the maximum daily total for any one station is still only 13.0 mm. I have seen reports from other stations around NM of well over 50 mm events. This disparity is exemplified by the difference between Albuquerque and the Sevilleta.