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Landscape Notes, Warm Season 2003

 

I am relaxing at the end of a hard day at work, followed by an enjoyable bike ride, another incredible sunset, and a relaxing dinnerin shorts, in December. The chill of our short winter will soon make that a rarity without a jacket or pants. But a high desert "winter" still beats much of the US.

 

The warm season this year lasted plenty of time from its start in mid-April, but most of it was very comfortable; in fact, it was quite spring like until July. But all of our summer heat seemed to get concentrated into July and part of August, without the more typical cooling and humidifying effect of our monsoon season. Many days were near or above 100F, only dipping below 80F around sunrise to again go far above that number by 8 am. I am grateful that this unusually hot summer was very short. As far as rain, what is that?

 

Spring flowering plants, such as Salvia, Thyme and Lavender, reveled during May and June, only to suffer a couple weeks into July. Even heat-loving Crepe Myrtle and Dwarf Palmetto were stunted at best, showing that they are much happier in less heat and more humidity; little could compensate for this July. Our regional natives, however, merely went dormant until it cooled in late August. Desert Willow, Damianita, Red Yucca and Mesquite all perked up as we neared fall, showing that they are used to this kind of torture and can conquer it in grand style, with weekly irrigation, at most.

 

Unfortunately, many native oaks and mountain mahogany in the nearby foothills went partially dormant; some lost all their leaves. As of early winter, a few appear to have completely died, with brittle stems only. Many native grasses never did green up and are completely brittle. What rain we had merely kept plants alive; it was never enough to help them thrive and grow. .

 

*Albuquerque Warm Season Climate (Apr - Oct, average growing season: 190-220 days)

 

(brief periods above 100F and long periods over 90F, with a few nights above 70F; the monsoon or chubasco season usually increases humidity and provides much of the years rainfall July to September---snow is rare but can happen in the earliest and latest parts of the warm season)

*Information source for long-term climate data: Western Regional Climate Center

 

Location

 

Average

Daily

High

(F)

 

Average

Daily

Low

(F)

 

Average

Extreme

Season High

(F)

 

Average

Extreme

Season Low

(F)

 

Average Number of Days

> 90F

 

Average Precipitation

During Period (inches)

 

Heights / Foothills

82

54

101

33

59

5-13"

(.7" or <1% of that falls in the form of light snow)

West Mesa

86

53

103

32

95

Valley

84

47

104

26

76

 

The first frost at the home office on November 5 ended the warm season, right on the long-term average. After a couple nights below 20F last week (and days barely warming past 32F), everything is dormant and only a couple Rosemary flowers remain.

 

David Cristiani

Albuquerque, New Mexico

December 2, 2003

 

 

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