The Main Stream

Aug 9, 2012 8:18 PM

Drought set to ease for Arizona

TUCSON - Above average monsoon rain and an El Nino Watch for the winter months have drought conditions in Arizona likely to improve.

Currently 100% of the state is classified as being in a moderate drought situation. 94%, including Tucson, are under a long term severe rating. Other parts of Arizona are even worse off as 25% owns an extreme rating.

Outlooks over the next several months show above average precipitation for Arizona leading to some improvement to the drought situation. Another good sign for the state is that nearly all models point to an El Nino pattern taking form by the end of September.

As El Nino sets up, above average ocean temperatures bring active weather to the Southwest United States. Mike Crimmins, Climatologist for the University of Arizona, says, "Once we move into the winter time we see that in the long term records looking back we have an increased probability of having above average rainfall."

This can spell some extended improvement to the drought overall. "It's going to help. You know every drop counts when we're talking about drought conditions," says Crimmins.

Even though the drought is expected to ease up it's important to point out that it's not likely to be completely washed away. Crimmins explains, "It has taken us several years to dig this hole and it's going to take several years above average precipitation or even normal precipitation to start filling that hole back in."

Winter rain and snow is especially important to this region for several reasons. Above average precipitation means a healthier snowpack which in return leads to higher reservoir and stream levels. Vegetation and wildlife also flourishes with the abundant rain and snow.

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