SE NM Historical Climate Review Of Years With Annual Low Temps Of 0ºF Or Colder.

December 30th, 2018.
White Mountain - Old Baldy - Sierra Blanca Peak West Of Ruidoso, NM.

Years With Annual Low Temperatures 0ºF Or Colder.
(National Weather Service Climate Co-Op Station Data).

Note: Light blue shaded columns indicate years that data is being reported.
Gray shaded columns indicate years of missing data or data that is no longer being reported due to a station closure. 

Local Climate Data Summary - January 1962.

Extremely Cold Low Temperatures During January 1962.

January 11th and 12th, 1962 saw some of the coldest temperatures ever officially recorded by our local National Weather Service Climate Co-Op Stations. This bitterly event was exceeded in terms of all-time lowest temperatures that occurred on February 1905 and in February 1933. And in a few cases the February 2011 event.

 The extremely cold record low temperatures recorded in Southeastern New Mexico on February 8th, 1933 still stand as most of the local areas coldest ever official readings. This includes the following:

February 8, 1933.

Artesia -35ºF
Hagerman -34ºF
Tatum -32ºF
Pearl (West Of Hobbs) -30ºF
Richland (Roosevelt County) -29ºF
Portales -28ºF
Lovington -27ºF
Mayhill Ranger Station -27ºF
Roswell -24ºF
Fort Sumner -23ºF
Fort Statnton -23ºF
Hope -22ºF
Carlsbad -17ºF

Stations That Recorded Their Lowest Ever Readings January 11,12 1962:

Fort Stanton -28ºF
Elk -24ºF
Bitter Lakes Wildlife Refuge -22ºF
Cloudcroft -21ºF
Carlsbad Airport -18ºF (Coldest For Carlsbad)
Hondo/Picacho/Tinnie -17ºF
Alamogordo -14ºF

February 2011 Record Cold Lowest Temperatures:

Fort Stanton Raws -31ºF
Inn Of The Mountain Gods - West Of Ruidoso -30ºF
Mescalero -30ºF

Ruidoso -27ºF (Coldest Ever)
Dry Canyon PWS Near Cloudcroft -27ºF
Alto PWS -26ºF
Aspendale PWS South Of Cloudcroft -24ºF
Elk -24ºF (Ties 1962 For Coldest Ever)
Silver Springs PWS NE Cloudcroft -22ºF
Capitan -22ºF
Mayhill Raws -21ºF
East Alamogordo PWS -21ºF
Cloudcroft -20ºF
Wimsatt PWS -20ºF

Cloudcroft Fire Station PWS -19ºF
Sierra Blanca Regional Airport -19ºF
Holloman AFB - Alamogordo -19ºF
Cosmic Raws - Sunspot -18ºF
Weed PWS -16ºF
Mescalero Raws -15ºF
Hondo/Picacho/Tinnie -14ºF
Alamogordo Airport -13ºF
Haynes Canyon - High Rolls PWS -12ºF
Bitter Lakes Wildlife Refuge -12ºF
Roswell Airport -11ºF
Artesia -9ºF
Carlsbad Airport -4ºF
Tatum -4ºF
Hobbs 1ºF

Note: PWS stands for Personal Weather Station or a Home Weather Station.

What I find really interesting is that it was colder in the Tularosa Basin during the February 2011 record cold outbreak than it was in the Pecos Valley. The Bitter Lakes Wildlife Climate Co-Op Station recorded the coldest low temperature in the Pecos Valley during that event with a reading of -12ºF. Followed closely by Roswell's -11ºF, and Artesia's -9ºF. A Personal Weather Station (PWS) in east Alamogordo recorded an amazing morning low of -21ºF.

Overall Coldest Years On Record:


One thing is very apparent when looking at the spreadsheets above. Except for the extremely record cold low temperatures recorded during the first week of February 2011, our lowest annual temperatures across Southeastern New Mexico, the Sacramento Mountains, and the Tularosa Basin haven't been nearly as cold as years prior to 1997. And more so prior to 1987.

 If you are thinking this is due to Global Warming, Climate Change, or Climate Disruption then I disagree with you since I don't believe in this politically driven agenda. I have (I'm 60 years old for the record) always believed that our planets climate is driven by the interaction of the following; the Solar Sunspot Cycles, the Oceanic Cycles with their periods of warming and cooling both short and long term, Volcanic Eruptions, and the earths tilt and rotation around the sun. 

Our planets climate had been warming since we climbed up out of the Last Little Ice (1300-1850). This compromised the following Solar Minimums: The Maunder Minimum and the Dalton Solar Minimum. The Centennial Solar Minimum occurred from 1875-1935 and many believe we have entered the Eddy Minimum which began in 2007. Many believe that the planets temperatures peaked or paused in the upward climb around 1997 and have begun a slow drop.

 Its interesting to note that during the Centennial Solar Minimum we saw some of our coldest temperatures ever recorded locally (1895, 1905, 1913, and 1933). I find it equally as interesting that with the Eddy Solar Minimum underway we endured some of the coldest temperatures on record during the arctic record cold outbreak of February 2011. If this follows the trend of historical record cold outbreaks in conjunction with the Solar Sunspot Minimum Cycles the trend towards colder winters has already started. I think it has and I also believe we may be headed for another Little Ice Age but that will have to be another blog discussion some day.

History is said to repeat itself and too many times humanity fails to learn or even remember the lessons of the past. If the record cold of February 2011 is a precursor of what is to come in the years ahead then I seriously doubt that many will be prepared for the kind of cold that happened in 1962, 1951, 1933, 1905, and 1895.

 Artesia's official reading of -35ºF recorded in town on Main Street where the present day Artesia Daily Press Office is located is just hard to wrap my head around. Even more astonishing is the fact that the local newspaper accounts from Artesia state that local farmers reported temperatures as low as -43ºF near the Pecos River east and south of town. 

Similar accounts are noted in the Roswell newspaper surrounding the -29ºF that was recorded in town on February 13th, 1905. Local accounts note that temperatures in the negative 30's were observed both inside and outside of the city.

When looking at the spreadsheets above that I have created and posted please keep in mind that the data I have used is from the local historical climatology records provided by the National Climate Data Center (NCDC). These are considered official National Weather Service records. I will be the first to admit that these temperature records may not adequately cover some of our past historical cold outbreaks. This is especially true going back in time before the 1980's when automated and remote weather stations were added to the normal climate station networks. Some of these local Co-Op Station records were available prior to the 1950's and only a few were around before the 1900's. 

Personal Weather Stations (PWS) have aided somewhat in filling the temperature gaps but for the most part these stations are not considered as official temperature readings. Some or sited or located better than others and provide a sampling of local temperatures...those more so that are not located above rooftops of buildings. 

I have spent my lifetime researching, recording, observing, and photographing our local weather here in Southeastern New Mexico. Growing up in Artesia I listened intently as a young child to the farmers and ranchers who would shop with us at the family owned grocery store (Batie's Grocery) owned and operated on north first street in Artesia. I asked those older farmers and ranchers a million questions it seemed. I listened intently to their stories of the droughts, heat waves, flash floods and heavy rains, the hail storms and blinding dust storms. I was especially interested in their stories of the snow storms of past and the bitter cold in the 1960's and earlier. These stories are priceless in my opinion.

 My grandparents were a young married couple living on the farm just outside of Artesia in the winter of 1933. Their account of unbelievable cold of the morning of February 8th was fascinating to listen too. They like many in the Pecos Valley awoke to the sound of trees exploding at daybreak. The winter had been rather uneventful and rather mind until arctic air infiltrated the area drove the thermometer down nearly out of the glass. With an afternoon high temperature of only 7ºF the afternoon before and morning low of -35ºF and colder the sap in the trees rapidly froze, expanded, and caused the tree limbs to literally explode. Thus the source of what sounded like gunshots that morning.

The official temperature records provided in the spreadsheets give us an overview of just how cold it has been in the past locally. But I fully realize that many of the older generations before me experienced temperatures colder than what has been noted above. Case in point is the 1933 cold. The official record low for Artesia on January 11, 1962 is -20ºF. However the thermometer at the NMSU AG Science Center located six miles south-southeast of town noted a morning low of -24ºF. Carlsbad recorded its lowest reading ever on that morning at the airport with a low of -18ºF. Many local Carlsbad residents remembering their thermometers dipping as low as -25ºF that morning. 

Elk's official low that morning in January 1962 was -24ºF. More than one person has told me that they saw their thermometers dive below -30ºF. I have no trouble believing these stories. Cold air always settles in the valleys and low spots and many times these areas are much colder than the hills, mountain tops, or even flat lands. Old timers have often stated that one of the coldest places around locally is Artesia and parts of the Pecos Valley. I agree but I also note that the high mountain valleys such as; the Penasco valley, Cox canyon, Russia canyon, the Hondo valley, and others can get far colder than nearby areas in the dead of winter especially when there is deep snow cover involved. 

The brutal cold of February 2011 was a shock to many in New Mexico. Locally it was the coldest we had dropped down to since the three day blizzard of 1997 and the snow and cold of December 1987 when Artesia and Lakewood both dipped to -13ºF. Prior to 1987 the next cold outbreak was noted in the late 1970's and prior to that 1966, 1963, and 1962. 1951 was very cold for New Mexico and then we have 1933, 1913, 1905, and 1895.

During that week long brutal cold outbreak of February 2011 the Oilfield Industry locally took a beating with widespread equipment failures due to freeze ups and shutdowns from the cold. Not only were the low temperatures cold but our daytime highs for several days in a row were only in the single digits and teens. Wind chill readings dropped to an astonishing -30ºF to -40ºF locally. Gas plants and refineries shut down all over not only in Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas, but also across the rest of New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.The local dairy industry wasn't spared either with some loss of cows and calves.

Climate Data Is Courtesy Of:

My Other Blogs Of Local Historic Record Cold Outbreaks.

The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction - And Sometimes It Hurts!


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