If you have followed me over the past 5 years, you understand how much I like to discuss weather, drought, antler growth & rutting activity in the Southwest. Honestly, I get a little sensitive when I feel others mis-lead people or don’t really get the facts straight.
I am in a position where I get to pick the brains of some top outfitters in each state and they are great resources, but I still fall back on the facts. Without the facts, we are all just throwing out opinions…
Hell, if you asked for my dad’s opinion, he would tell you it hasn’t rained in Arizona since 1974!
The past 30 days hasn’t been too promising for Arizona & New Mexico. If I was looking at this 4 years ago, I would be a little nervous about the elk antler growth, but it’s just a short term model.
The 60 day map shows a little more promise. Arizona’s units 4-9, 21-23 & units in the Central & Southwest portions of the state received some great precipitation. Utah’s San Juan, a portion of the Southwest Desert & the east side of the state, all were covered well. Central & Southern Nevada is in pretty good shape, if you look at this map. New Mexico was pretty dry and Western & Central Colorado ended pretty well, but the eastern & the southwest corner were dry.
The 90 day map isn’t too much different for the Southwest, so we will skip over to the 6 month. Wyoming was drenched!!!
Ok, so now we are getting into some interesting stuff!
The 2013 Southwest Monsoon was good to the four corner states. The monsoon from the previous year, is something I have learned to look at closely when evaluating antler growth conditions.
The run-off water for dirt tanks and ponds are critical for elk & deer in the Arizona & New Mexico. Many of the units rely on these man made waters! This map is EXTREMELY promising, because the more water sources elk & deer have, the less they have to travel (less calories burned) & compete (more calories consumed) for food.
The 12 month map really shows you how dry it was last winter & spring throughout most of the Southwest. Keep in mind, the warmer climate states, like Arizona & New Mexico welcome bad winters. Antler Growth in States like Wyoming, Colorado & Montana may actually be hurt by bad winters (snowfall).
Ok, so lets look at the current 2014 forecast outlook…
“From the Rockies westward, climatologically, January – March varies from a slightly dry time of year in the eastern and southern Rockies (where 10 to 20 percent of annual precipitation usually falls) to a very wet time of year in California (over 45 percent of annual precipitation on average). Area-wide, it is an important season for snowpack to accumulate and provide a ready source of water for the ensuing warm and (in western sections) dry time of year. Thus January – March precipitation is of particular importance to this entire region.
From central and southern sections of the Rockies westward through most of the Intermountain West and the West Coast, light to moderate precipitation is forecast for the first 7 days of the period, followed by enhanced chances for below-normal precipitation during the ensuing week. For January, below-normal precipitation is favored from central and southern California southeastward into northeastern Arizona while surplus precipitation is more likely from central Idaho to the north and east, with neither extreme favored elsewhere. As a whole, the outlook for the first three months of the year has enhanced chances for deficient precipitation from New Mexico and western Colorado westward through the southern half of Nevada and the central and southern sections of California.
Taking all this into account, some relief seems likely in central Idaho and neighboring areas because of anticipated January wetness, but drought persistence (and some expansion into areas already leaning dry) is expected by the end of March across the rest of the region
Forecast confidence from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast is moderate across the northern half of the drought-affected region, and high farther to the south.” NOAA Forecaster R. Tinker
It’s a TOSS up right now, but the 2013 Monsoon will surely help antler growth conditions going into 2014.
Hopefully, this forecast above is WRONG and we see some great precipitation in the Southwest. In my opinion, February & March are the most critical months for Elk Antler Growth in the Southwest.