November Rains Bring Some Relief to SW Drought, Record Number of $B Disasters
West of the Rockies, temperatures were slightly below to well below normal this month, but regions of the Southwest east of Rockies saw temperatures near to slightly above average, according to the newest State of the Climate from NOAA. Pockets in the Southwest received above-average precipitation, reducing the severity of drought in western Arizona and northern Texas. However, exceptional drought still persists in parts of New Mexico and most of Texas.
NOAA also reports that 2011 set a record with 12 individual weather/climate disasters in the U.S.—including the Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona wildfires—that resulted in over a billion dollars in damage—total damage costs reached $52 billion. What’s more, this year was the only time in the past 100 years in which 15% of the Southwest experienced extreme wet conditions at the same time that over 40% experienced extreme dry conditions, according to NOAA’s Climate Extreme Index. To illustrate these and other monthly extremes throughout the country, the Natural Resources Defense Council created an educational and interactive map.