It may feel like summer is just around the corner but I will predict that winter will probably throw us a few more curves.
January was not very newsworthy or at least not weather-worthy... in New Mexico. TV weather-casters had almost nothing to show on their radar as clouds were few and far between. Even when present little fell out of them. A big high locked over the western half of the US sent the jet stream and hence the moisture all north. The only talking point became the number of days since the last precipitation. The last precipitation in Albuquerque (and on the Sev) was Dec 21. The record for Albuquerque during the Dec - Feb period was 41 days (1927-28).
For a year that looked promising as an El Nino seemed to be developing during the fall it turned out to exhibit a strong La Nina nature instead. This was despite the fact that a La Nina never really developed. The first half of the year was the driest in the Sev LTER 25 year history with only an average of 20 mm for the first 6 months.
Climate trivia. Optimism was running high regarding the easing of drought in NM. Following the very wet July and September that brought considerable relief to drought conditions around the state, early December storms built snow packs earlier in the ski season than normal These were considered good signs for drought easing. In light of this the question is, when have we had a wet or wetter Decembers than this.
November is one of those months that can really push the extremes of one's wardrobe. Some years the Sevilleta has had daytime temperatures of over 80 degrees F and then have temperatures plummeting to 0 degrees F. This years November had neither of those. In addition many NM natives have stories of winter storms arriving sometime during the Thanksgiving week that have caused holiday travel chaos. This year might well have been one of those except the winter storm actually arrived here the week ahead of Thanksgiving because of the lateness of the holiday this year. More later.
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.