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White Sands National Park Climate

The Tularosa Basin, a high desert area, averaging 4,000 feet (1200+ meters) in elevation, is subject to harsh, and sometimes rapidly changing climatic conditions. Summers are hot, averaging 95F. (35C.) highs in July and August, with occasional readings over 100F. (38C.). Winters are relatively mild, but night time temperatures often go below freezing (0C.) and cold spells can send the mercury below zero (0F., -17C.). The lowest recorded temperature is -25F. (-32C.). Snowfall is infrequent, but heavy snows have occurred on occasion. Precipitation averages about 8 inches (20cm.) per year, with most falling during summer thunderstorms, often accompanied by lightning and hail.

Wind is the dominant climatic factor here, especially from February through May. The prevailing southwesterly winds blow unimpeded across the desert and at times reach gale force. Wind storms can last for days in the spring. This is the time of the greatest dune movement, when living conditions for dune animal and plant communities become extremely harsh.

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