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El Niño and its effect on precipitation in Arizona and Western New Mexico

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Abstract

This paper focuses primarily on the effect of El Niño on seasonal and annual precipitation at 26 locations in Arizona and western New Mexico for an 86-year period from 1900 to 1985. Following Rasmusson (1984), each year is classified as either a non-El Niño year (51) or an El Niño year (35), with the El Niños designated as being very weak (4), weak (8), moderate (12), or strong (11). Using the Mann-Whitney U-test for the 19 stations in Arizona, we find that, in the spring (March-May) and in the autumn (September-November), there is a positive relationship between precipitation in Arizona and both moderate and strong El Niños.

These results are verified by correlating seasonal and annual precipitation for the complete 26-station network with the pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin. Plausible physical explanations for these results are given.

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