October was very tame. Even though the temperatures ran below normal for the month there were really no precipitous drops in temperature. The coolness was more the result of a pattern of dry cold (actually cool) fronts that passed through the state on a regular basis. The dry air associated with these fronts allowed night time temperatures to drop quite low at nite but subsequently allowed temperatures to rise back into a comfortable range during the day.
It's being called "The September to Remember". Obviously there was lots of rain during September and in many cases too much during too short a period of time. The Sevilleta Refuge certainly got it's fair share of rain but it was not the bulls-eye that some other locales in the state turned out to be. The "big day" on the Sevilleta was the 10th with most stations receiving between 30 and 45 mm. Skies actually cleared the next day over the refuge as the heavy rain moved over eastern NM and dropped even bigger amounts there.
Good August? Bad August? In case you have forgotten, August is supposed to be almost like July... although it usually isn't. It also depends on where one is residing as the rain clouds glide by. That was certainly the story for this August in NM. After a July that had over twice the normal July rain on the Sev, there was almost no chance that we would keep up with that in August... and indeed we didn't. Average for combined July and August is 85.8 mm split almost evenly between the 2 months. With a July total of 94.2 mm we obviously couldn't do worse than average.
Wow! Finally, some real rain. Finally lots of real rain... over twice what we expect for an average July. The monsoon type moisture arrived at the beginning of the month and generally hung around through the entire month. The refuge-wide average was 94.2 mm (3.84"). The east side of the refuge did better with an average of 118 mm while the west side lagged behind with an average of 76 mm. The partial met station on Nunn Flats measured 144.8 mm (5.70").
I knew I should have waited to make the preliminary monsoon winner announcement - I guess you all know where this is going, don't you. Sure enough it turns out that there was an earlier qualifying event than the 9th. On July 3rd, starting at 3:08 AM MST, 21.0 mm fell in the Blue Grama met station rain gauge. Feel free to rush to your entrants table to see who was the winner but you are probably going to get it wrong. This gets complicated.
June provided very little relief from our ever extending drought. During early and mid-June, there were a few minute storms. Then there was a 10-day dry spell before some more sizable shots of rain on the 29th and 30th. Monthly totals across the refuge varied from 3.0 to 14.1 mm with a refuge-wide average of 6.6 mm. While this is still less than half the expected June inputs it was still better than the last two years.
Below are this years entries for the Monsoon Prediction Contest. Predictions were submitted by 48 people. If you really think that you submitted a guess and it is not on the list, please contact me immediately - it could have gotten lost. People's dates and times should be correct as I just copied and pasted them - hence the variety of formats. July 10 was the most popular choice this year with 4 selections. Five other dates had 3 picks each. With high pressure locked in over NM, there seems to be little indication that monsoon will start before July.
Good Luck to all
This report is a little slow to hit the web because Met Central went to Colorado for a couple a weeks to see what green vegetation looked like.
For May moisture, or lack there of, is still the story. There were a few storms that showed some potential but then generally fizzled. Almost all moisture fell on May 9 but only averaged out to 2.2 mm across the refuge. Drier Mays in the past include 1996, '98, '00, '03, '06, '11.
Even though everyone, including NOAA, is being pessimistic about our summer rains, I am going to predict that we will get at least some monsoon-type rains. It should be remembered that the 2006 winter and spring were very similar to this past one and was followed by the wettest summer on record. It's still a little early for the monsoon flow to get set up; the National Weather Service has started declaring that the official Monsoon season begins June 15 but I'm still going to officially kick off the 16th annual Monsoon Prediction Contest.
April temperatures were on the giant roller coaster ride this month. On a weekly harmonic temperatures went from highs in the 80 degree range and within a day or so they had tumbled with lows in the 20 degree F range with a subsequent climb to above normal again. We should all know that it's not safe to plant tender plants during April but because of the warm days it just becomes too tempting to get that summer planting started.