Short-term drought outlook for Arizona keeps improving
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Even though the Valley saw no change last week, Thursday’s updated version of the U.S Drought Monitor map shows Arizona trending in the right direction after yet another round of wet winter storms. As of Thursday, 21% of the state remains in the “moderate” category, which translates into streams and reservoirs running on the low side, with some possible damage to local crops. A year ago, 57% of the state was in the “moderate” drought category. The biggest number that jumped compared to January 2022 was in the “severe” category. Over a quarter of Arizona was suffering from severe drought last January; now that number stands at just over 1%.
According to the Arizona State Climatologist Office, much of Arizona has received well over 100% of the average January precipitation. As a result, the state climate office shows that it has been almost five months since the state has seen areas in the “extreme” drought category and six months seeing any areas in the “exceptional” category. For instance, here in the Valley, recent rains has pushed our rain bucket number to a little over 1 inch of rain recorded at Sky Harbor Airport, which is .31″ above the average to date.
Snowfall has been plentiful in the mountains of northern Arizona. Flagstaff has now recorded the third “snowiest” January with 60.4″ of snow, well over three feet above the average. The U.S. Snow Analysis snowcover map shows 60% of the country covered in snow in various depths.
Checking in on the vast Salt River Project watershed north and east of the Valley, the Verde River area snowpack has soared up to 288% of the average to date, with 147% of the average snow depth/liquid water equivalent over in the Salt River snowpack.
Even with these numbers, this is just the short-term drought outlook. The state is still battling a decades-long drought that will take many more winter storms and beneficial runoff/water storage to improve our water situation. Little lifestyle changes can add up! Some suggestions that consumers can use are from the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Be water-wise in our beautiful, climate-diverse state!
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