At an elevation of 7,219 feet (2200 meters) the climate at El Morro National Monument is much more mild than the desert around it. The area averages 16 inches of precipitation a year, compared to the 3.3 inches of rain in nearby Albuquerque.
Summer Months (May-August)
The warmest months at El Morro are June and July, with averages highs in the mid-80s and lows in the 50s. Summer also brings the majority of the precipitation of the year with the summer monsoon season. Afternoon thunderstorms can develop quickly and be severe.
Winter Months (November-March)
December and January make up the coldest months, with average lows of around15 degrees and highs around 45 degrees. The area averages 40 inches of snowfall a year.
Over the last century, the majority of New Mexico has experienced an average of one degree Fahrenheit of warming. Changes in the water cycle are one of the main ways climate changes manifests. Multiple climate models predict increases in surface temperatures and a continued decrease in precipitation in the southwest. This will likely lead to increases in the flammability of live and dead forest fuels, cause earlier, and lengthen fire seasons.
Pinyon pines weakened by drought conditions become easy targets for pine beetles. These beetles are native to the ecosystem, but populations can increase dramatically when moisture stress weakens large numbers of trees over large areas. Without enough precipitation, trees are not able to repel the beetles with increased flows of pitch. Once insect populations are large enough, they can successfully attack healthy trees as well as those affected by drought. This increased tree mortality also increases fuel loads and potential for catastrophic wildfire.
Climate Change in the Southwest
Last updated: November 16, 2022