U.S. Precipitation, Last 90 Days

This is not the U.S. precipitation pattern you expect in an El Niño winter. Here in Albuquerque, we’re living under a bit of an illusion, with the fourth storm since Christmas currently snowing east and north of us and clouds and a threat of rain here in New Mexico’s largest city. But you only have to travel up to Quinault, up on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, to grasp the pattern. The new U.S. Climate Reference Network station there has received 23.6 inches of rain since Jan. 1. The typical El Niño pattern tends to be drier than normal across the Pacific Northwest, and wetter than normal across the southwest. But we’ve been getting instead what the National Weather Service forecasters down here call “bowling ball storms,” staring up in the Pacific Northwest and diving down across the Great Basin rather than coming in off of the Pacific. Southern California and Arizona, as you can see, have been extraordinarily dry the last three months. We’ve been getting the edge of the storms here in New Mexico, but even here, it’s been a lot drier than I think people perceive it to be.