Finally some moisture, but still not enough. The Sevilleta endured a a 34-day (Mar 21 - Apr 23) stretch with virtually no precipitation. Finally, on April 24th the refuge got appreciable precipitation some of which came in the form of hail and also accompanied by some strong winds. A second, bigger, storm followed on the 26th and a little more moisture was added on the 27th. When all was said and done, the refuge-wide average of 10.9 mm came in slightly below the long-term average of 11.9.
We should be doing better. That's we as in NM with regards to precipitation this year. Actually we are certainly doing much better than the last 2 years. However, as we are now officially in an El Nino we should expect at least a wetter than normal spring. Perhaps it is still coming but March was generally disappointing, at least for the Albuquerque - Sevilleta area. Granted, moisture in storms that hit certain portions of the state, particularly the northern mountains, delivered much need snow to watersheds and ski resorts that were also desperately in need of a boost.
February ran backwards, warm and dry for the first 3 weeks and cold and threatening to be wet during the last week. Despite Puxatawney Phil's prediction of 6 more weeks of winter, New Mexico seemed to ignore that prediction and cruised right into spring. The first 10 days of the month were particularly warm with 4 new daily high records set. With a couple of minor dips, daily high temperatures stayed at or above average through the 21st.
With all due respect to old George W. on this Presidents Day I will not be telling a lie when I say that February has been a little warm so far. In fact with half the month gone, we are on track for one of the warmests Februarys on record. Through the first 15 days of the month, the average daily high temperature average across the Sevilleta has been 63.7 degrees F. The long-term average daily high for the entire month of February is 56.5.
On average January is the driest month of the year on the Sevilleta with a long-term average of only 7.4 mm (0.29"). The wettest January on the Sev during the LTER (1989-present) tenure was 34.3 mm in 2005 (1.35"). The other end of that spectrum was last year with zero precipitation on the refuge during the entire month. So it was easy to exceed that mark and it was quickly done by a storm on the night of Jan 2 when a wrap-around storm targeted the southern and eastern part of the state with the Sevilleta taking a pretty good hit.
In many ways 2014 seemed to be a carbon copy of 2013. The only good news with respect to non-monsoon precipitation was that it was not as bad as 2013 - actually only the 6th lowest in Sev's 26 year history. As in 2013 monsoon moisture came relatively early although the monsoon contest qualifying storm did not arrive until July 29. With a slightly wetter than normal July, a slightly drier than normal August and a considerably wetter than normal September, the monsoons came in at 151 mm - about 115% of normal. This was still well behind 2013 monsoon of 208 mm.
December had about 3 distinct parts . Early December was extremely warm with daytime highs running near or above 60o F for the first 12 days of the month with one new daily record high set on the 3rd. Then temperatures tumbled back down near normal with a few more warm excursions until Christmas day. Then some really cold air arrived and stuck around through the end of the year.
November temperatures came in just about average for the month although few of the daily temperatures actually ran at normal. November started warm but a cooling storm brought some early moisture to NM. Unseasonable warmth returned until the 12th when a Polar Express brought extremely cold temperature down through the eastern side of the state with only some of it leaking through into the central part of the state.
October began the new 2015 water-year. On average, October is the 4th wettest month of the year, following July, August, September. However it seems that the Sevilleta rarely sees the average precipitation during October but rather often either extremes near 0 or on par with the wetter months of the summer. Sevilleta saw some moisture from another hurricane. Early in the month Hurricane Simon provided the first real moisture of October.
Hurricanes to the rescue. Moisture associated with Hurricane Odile contributed much of the September moisture at the Sevilleta. The refuge, average total for the month was 57.8 mm; of this 42.4 mm fell during the 3 day period of Sep 15-17. This makes September the wettest month of 2014 so far. It is also the 5th wettest September in Sev LTER's 26-year record.