Extreme drought developing in southern Arizona - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

Extreme drought developing in southern Arizona

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TUCSON - The warm & dry La Niña Winter is taking its toll on the Grand Canyon State.

According to this week's US Drought Monitor, roughly 9% of Arizona is now in extreme drought status. This includes Santa Cruz, southern Pima and southwest Cochise Counties in addition to the White Mountains of Graham & Greenlee Counties.

Areas under severe drought cover 64% of Arizona, stretching from southern Arizona to the Four Corners region.

Tucson has only recorded 2.31" rain since August 1st, running nearly 4" below normal for this timeframe. In addition, fuel moisture levels for brush and small trees across southern Arizona are at 1-2%. This indicates the potential for exponential wildfire growth.

According to National Weather Service Meteorologist Carl Cerniglia, certain fuel moisture levels this year are even drier than the record setting wildfire year in 2011. Over 1 million acres of Arizona land burned 7 years ago. Two of the most noteworthy fires from 2011 include the Wallow Fire in the White Mountains and the Horseshoe 2 Fire in the Chiricahua Mountains.

Long range forecasts for Spring in southern Arizona offers little hope. Despite La Niña dissipating in the eastern Pacific, odds favor warm & dry conditions continuing.

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