Thursday, February 11, 2016

Cool Season Precipitation So Far During 2015/2016

I have been looking at the interactive web pages of Mike Crimmins and Will Holmgren, both at University of Arizona, this morning. It has, to me, seemed like a fairly mundane winter, given all the hype about the strong El Nino and the likelihood of a very wet winter a couple of months ago. Both of these web sites allow one to "explore" this cool season (starting Oct 1, 2015) relative to other seasons within the periods of record.

 Mike's web site allows the user to examine either this cool season, or all the seasons in the record, and for a large number of stations in the Southwest, 


I've shown three examples here. Above is the current season for precipitation at Organ Pipe National Monument. There have been only two significant events at Organ Pipe and the season is now below normal out there.

The plot for TUS at the airport is shown below. We basically experienced the same two events (one in October and one at the start of January, and these two have kept the airport above normal, but the dry period since the start of January will soon take the airport back into the brown, unless another event materializes in the next several weeks.

For contrast, the second below shows the season for Van Horn, Texas - over in the Big Bend country. Van Horn is having a wet cool season so far, and wouldn't cross into the brown until April, if no additional precipitation occurs. Yuma provides the ultimate contrast to these stations, since there has been no cool season precipitation measured out there.

Will's website is very interactive for the TUS precipitation observations and allows the user to compare various years wrt the strength of El Nino conditions. 

I've highlighted the dark blue curve above, which is for the 1997/1998 season (note that the cool shades indicate stronger El Nino conditions). 

The very wet season that year had significant precipitation events here in February and March, so it's too soon to write this season off as bust. Will's site is at the link below.

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