I have decided to continue the Monsoon Prediction Contest for at least
another year. Even though the National Weather Service (NWS) declares
June 15th to be the official start of the Monsoon season, the true
start of monsoon level precipitation in this area can be extremely
variable. It typically starts sometime in late June or early July and
extends into September. There are numerous criteria for what
constitutes the start of the monsoon season but my experience has
shown that a pretty sizable shot of moisture over a 1 or 2 day period
New Sevilleta records in May. Coolest average daily low
temperature in Sevilleta's 28 year record. Average lows were 46.6 F -
long term average is 50 F. There were 5 days with new record daily low
temperatures. Believe it or not last May was the second coolest on
record. Daytime highs were not all that warm either. The maximum
daily high on the refuge during this May was only 88.9 degrees
If we thought February was a poor example of a strong El Nino
February, March was even more underwhelming - driest March in the NM
long-term record. March's are typically wetter than February's and in
certain cases very much wetter. For example the wettest March in
Albuquerque's long term record was 1998... the last super El Nino.
Not only was March entirely dry across the Sevilleta, the last
precipitation on all of the met stations on the Sev was back on Feb
1st. Since the end of March that was 59 days with virtually no moisture
The cold end of 2015 carried over into the start of 2016. The Sevilleta started 2016 with a 2-week stretch of cold - high temperatures never reached average until the 14th. High temperatures then spent much of the rest of January above average with 2 of the last 3 days of the month breaking daytime records. Ultimately, mean daytime highs averaged over 1 degree C below average while night time lows came in almost exactly average. Daily means were about a half a degree C cooler than average.
Beginning at the largest scale, 2015 set a new global high temperature record- actually shattering the previous 2014 record.
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.