March transitioned out of a cooler than normal February (and January) and gave us a warmer than normal March. That is not to say that there were not a couple of cold blips. The month started with a warm spell. A cold storm came in and knocked temperatures back down well below normal for a couple of days before temperatures ramped back up to near or well above normal with a new record high temperature set on the 15th.
February weather ran backwards. A week-long warm spell started the month but that gave way to below normal temperatures through much of the remainder of the month. Cold air was carried by a series of storms that passed through NM with plenty of wind but little or no moisture - at least not for the Sevilleta area. For average daily temperatures, Feb came in as the 3rd coldest Feb. in the Sev - LTER history - the coldest being 2011 and the 2nd coldest 2004.
The new year seemed to toss us some curves right off the bat. After a record warm 2012, 2013 started off seemingly headed toward the opposite extreme. A couple of southern plunges of the jet stream allowed arctic air to stream into New Mexico for extended periods of time early in January. Night time low temperatures went to new record lows for several days and allowed little rebound for daytime highs.
January 16, 2013
Well we have weathered the first mighty snow storm of the year actually 2 in one day - a total of 0.2" of snow. It might interest you to know that the National Weather Service (NWS) station at the airport got "no precipitation" on Monday. Actually they reported a trace (<0.01") of precipitation for the day which effectively adds nothing to the totals. Other measurements around Albuquerque by the CoCoRaHS Network showed as much as 0.09". Average January precipitation for Albuquerque is 0.38" - average snowfall is 2.1"
December began with a continuation of warm dry conditions that had prevailed for most of the fall. Wintery weather finally arrived on Dec 9th. Temperatures plunged from a daily record high on the 7th to a record daily low on the 10th. There was some moisture in NM with this storm but not in the Albuquerque, Sevilleta area.
November is a month when temperatures can still run in the 80's during the day but on average the lows can be expected to be right around freezing. With the way temperatures have been running this year it was not too surprising when temperatures ran at near or above record high levels early in November. This all came to an abrupt end during the second week of the month when a strong storm swept through from the 9th-11th bringing wind, some moisture but certainly very cold temperatures.
Despite my wife's prediction to the contrary, I believe we will see some winter weather this year... or at least this water-year. While it can be argued that we have been having very nice weather this fall, the lack of any significant moisture passing through this area has become increasingly noticeable, even alarming, even on top of 2 full years of well below normal precipitation. Of course, this late fall period is not a time that we should expect to see a lot of precipitation.
October seems to often be feast or famine. With an El Nino predicted for this fall, winter, spring it was expected that we would see normal or above normal precipitation during the month. This certainly did not happen. Long-term, refuge-wide, average precipitation for the Sevilleta is 24.0 mm for October. Instead the Sev basically got a goose-egg. There was one 0.1 mm tip at Cerro Montoso. This does not really qualify as measurable precipitation. This is the driest October in Sev's LTER history; the previous lowest was 0.9 mm in 1995.
The refuge-wide precipitation average of 32.7 mm (1.29") makes it the wettest month on the Sevilleta this calendar year. However, This still fell below the normal expected, September precipitation of 34.2 mm. The localized monster storm on Sep 6th that dropped 44 mm (1.73") at the Cerro Montoso met station certainly skews that average to the high side. This means that other areas of the Sevilleta saw much less than the 32.7 mm. A wider ranging and longer lasting rainfall on the 13th was much more beneficial for the vegetation across the refuge.