Arizona drought: No relief in sight with dry winter forecast

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- It's been a dry summer and it looks like it's going to be a dry winter. That does not bode well for Arizona's drought conditions, which have been an issue since 1999.

As Javier Soto reports, the return of the La Niña weather pattern could mean even drier conditions next year.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, the La Niña weather pattern is "cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific ocean that impact global weather patterns. La Niña conditions recur every few years and can persist for as long as two years."

Why does that matter to us in Arizona?

"La Niña often features drier than normal conditions in the Southwest in late summer through the subsequent winter," according to the NOAA website.

This dry forecast comes on top of more than a decade of drought conditions.

The latest survey by the Nebraska-based National Drought Mitigation Center shows all of Arizona in some degree of drought.

The extremely dry weather has already forced some ranchers to thin their herds because the range conditions are so poor.

It also has contributed to this year's record wildfire season, which stretched into September and left more than 1 million acres charred.

In addition to exacerbating drought conditions, this year's drier-than-normal monsoon, dubbed a "nonsoon," and a series of intense dust storms combined to created atypical dust conditions that exceeded federal standards 85 times.

Local air-quality agencies  believe 84 of those incidents can be attributed to weather.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.