Typical La Niña Pattern Developing in the SW
Over the past 30 days, most of Arizona has experienced temperatures at least 3 degrees F above average, according to the January Climate Outlook from CLIMAS. Temperatures in New Mexico have been more varied, with most of the northern half experiencing slightly above-average temperatures and most of the southern and central areas experiencing below-average temperatures. Precipitation across the region is beginning to appear more like the typical La Niña pattern, with exceptionally dry conditions prevailing over the past month. Precipitation in almost all of Arizona has been 0-25 percent of average; northern and western New Mexico has experienced below-average precipitation as well. The only regions with above-average precipitation were east-central Arizona and southeast New Mexico, where precipitation amounts reached as high as 800 percent of normal in a few isolated areas.
According to sea surface height data from NASA satellites, La Niña conditions in the tropical Pacific have recently intensified, increasing the odds that the Southwest will be dry for the remainder of the winter. Conditions are still not as strong as last year’s La Niña episode, but NASA will continue to monitor current conditions to see if they continue to strengthen.