Drought worsens with dry October

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The Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal cuts through the desert, Friday, M The Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal cuts through the desert, Friday, M
(3TV/CBS 5) -

Phoenicians are rejoicing at the arrival of fall-like temperatures. We were finally treated to mild weather on the very last day of October. Most of the month felt more like September, or even August at points.

Looking back at the stats, this past October was our fifth warmest on record. The average high was 94 degrees, which is 6 degrees above normal. And our average low was 67 degrees, which is 4 degrees above normal.

But it wasn’t just hot; it was dry. In fact, we got no measurable rain at Sky Harbor the entire month. That’s only the fourth time that’s happened since we started keeping records for Phoenix in 1896.

[RELATEDSee rain totals for your neighborhood so far this year]

This isn’t good news for our drought, and neither is our winter outlook for the coming months.

First, the drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor releases an update on drought conditions every Thursday. Here’s what this week’s update looks like. 

MOBILE/APP USERS:  CLICK HERE FOR IMAGE OF DROUGHT MONITOR UPDATE

Nearly 80 percent of the state is abnormally dry. That’s a jump from just a week ago when 71 percent of the state was in that category.  More than 40 percent of Arizona is considered to be in a moderate drought, including the Phoenix metro area. That’s a big jump from just 25 percent of the state just a week ago. 

Last week, no part of the state was in the severe drought category. This week, 2 percent of Arizona -- down in the southernmost part of the state -- is in the severe category.

While this past week brought wet and stormy conditions to the Northwest, a big ridge of high pressure brought dry weather for the Southwest. But it’s been persistently dry and warm for the last several months, with a weaker-than-normal monsoon season that ended early for Arizona.

[READ MORE: Monsoon 2017 will go down as a 'non-soon']

[AND THIS: Is our monsoon changing?]

[SLIDESHOW: Best of Arizona's 2017 monsoon]

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Monsoon 2017]

The recent winter outlook issued by the Storm Prediction Center doesn’t give us much hope either when we look ahead. Thanks to developing La Niña conditions, there’s a decent chance the desert Southwest will have a drier than usual winter.

[QUICK LESSON: El Niño and La Niña explained]

MOBILE/APP USERS:  CLICK HERE FOR THE IMAGE OF THE WINTER OUTLOOK FROM NOAA/CPC

That’s the December through February time frame. There’s also higher likelihood that we’ll have warmer-than-average temperatures in the desert Southwest during that time frame.

MOBILE/APP USERS:  CLICK HERE FOR THE IMAGE OF THE WINTER OUTLOOK FOR TEMPS FROM NOAA/CPC

It might be an even shorter-than-usual season for those boots, scarves and sweaters in the Valley. We’ll keep you updated if that changes. 

[READ MORE: Fewer days of sweater weather?]

But at this point, our next chance of rain is a storm that is forecast to move in next Monday and Tuesday. Right now, it’s just a slight chance that storm will bring any rain to the Valley.  Keep your fingers crossed that changes between now and then.  


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Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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