Global temperatures in 2011 were the coolest since 2008, but they were still above the 1981-2010 average and the year was one of the 15 warmest on record.
The first half of the year has been the warmest for the U.S. since recordkeeping began in 1895, with temperatures 4.5 degrees F above average, according to the June State of the Climate from NOAA.
Consecutive years of drought likely led to bark beetle attack of pinyon pine and juniper forests and the mortality of millions of these trees in the Southwest since the late 1990s, according to a recent study in
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.
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.
Suffering from a decade-long drought, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, along with water representatives from New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, appealed in a Capitol Hill briefing for help from the federal government last week, reports the Las Vegas Review.
Precipitation throughout Arizona and New Mexico over the past month was less than 75 percent of normal, according to the March 2012 Southwest Climate Outlook from CLIMAS.