Weather and Climate
Drought conditions have intensified in Arizona and New Mexico in the last month, with precipitation less than 5 percent of average across most of both states, according to the June Climate Outlook from CLIMAS.
The average global temperature in May was the second warmest on record, with a combined global land and ocean surface temperature of 1.19 degrees F above the 20th century average, according to the newest State of the Climate from NOAA.
There are currently 19 active large fires in the U.S., 12 of which are in Southwest states, reports the National Interagency Fire Center. The largest fire is still the Whitewater-Baldy fire in New Mexico which has burned a total of 297,000 acres and is now 87 percent contained.
Arizona has warmed the fastest of any U.S. state since 1970 at about 0.64 degrees F per decade, and is the fourth fastest warming state since 1912, warming about 0.27 degrees F per decade.
This spring (March-May) was the warmest spring on record for the U.S., with temperatures 5.2 degrees F above normal, and it was also the largest temperature departure from average for any season, according to the newest NOAA State of the Climate Report.
The 2012 wildfire season has begun in the Southwest, with fires blazing through Colorado and Arizona. As of yesterday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, the Hewlett fire in Colorado was about 5,090 acres, and fires in Arizona had grown to an estimated 26,376 acres.
May 2011 thru April 2012 was the warmest consecutive 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S., according to the April State of the Climate from NOAA. The month of April was the third warmest on record for the U.S., with temperatures 3.6 degrees F above average, while precipitation was 0.20 inches below average.
Since January 1, precipitation in Arizona and New Mexico has been less than 50 percent of average, but thanks to higher-than-average precipitation in December, less than half of each state is currently in extreme or exceptional drought.
March was 8.6 degrees F warmer than average across the contiguous U.S., making it the warmest March on record with over 15,000 high temperature records broken, according to NOAA. Only one other month has seen a larger departure from its average, January 2006.