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.
Hurricanes can be our friends. Actually the remnants of hurricanes can be our friends. This is the time of the year that Pacific hurricanes sometime come to the southwest to die. Moisture carried by or directed by these tropical storms can have a big impact on our fall moisture. Of course sometimes they miss us and drop all of their moisture in other areas. This was particularly the case with Hurricane Norbert. It dropped inches of rain in Arizona but did little for NM. Hurricane Odile looked more promising. Big flooding rain amounts were predicted for much of New Mexico.
The good news is that there were lots of days during August with precipitation somewhere on the refuge - 18 days. The bad news was that this precipitation was often limited in amount as well as in area upon which it fell. The refuge-wide average was 38.1 mm (long-term average is 42.3 mm). The northern portion of McKenzie Flats got the largest amount of rain with the partial met station near Black Butte getting 69 mm. The South Gate station on the east side came in with only 23.6 mm.
Sevilleta's monsoon arrived late. Actually monsoon level moisture arrived early but refused to fall from the sky in sufficient quantities until late in the month. There were numerous small to medium shots of rain for the first half of the month. This was followed by a hot and dry spell. Wetter and more wide-spread storms returned for the last 3 days of the month. These not only "officially" started the monsoon but also pushed the average rainfall for the month past normal.
Remember the Monsoon Contest? Yes, it had still been going on.
Despite big floods in other parts of the state, the Sevilleta Refuge
continually missed out on a "big one".
Yesterday afternoon (July 29) a storm swept through portions of the
Sevilleta and beginning at 7:38 MDT the Cerro Montoso met station
received a total of 25.8 mm of precipitation. Other stations on the
east side of the refuge got sizable amounts as well while the west
side got smaller amounts and the South Gate station on the east side
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