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Recent rain, snow helping ease Arizona’s long drought

( Photos)

PHOENIX — Recent rain and snow that has fallen in Arizona is helping to ease the state’s 17-year drought, a climatologist said.

“We needed a good winter like this is turning out to be. Winter rain and snow can be drought busters,” Arizona State University meteorology professor Randy Cerveny said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor showed approximately 25 percent of Arizona was in moderate or severe drought.

That’s an improvement from 45 percent just three months ago. No area of Arizona is in the exceptional or extreme drought category.

Since October (excluding this month), the Valley has averaged 2.40 inches of rain.

“This is the fall and winter that we expected to have last year with El Nino,” Cerveny said.

In California, where the storms are coming from, there has been enough precipitation to push 40 percent of the long-suffering state out of drought.

“We don’t have the warming of the Pacific Ocean waters right now. The warming that can bring much wetter winters to Arizona. For some reason, we’re getting the kind of things we see during El Nino.

“A lot of moisture coming up from the tropics and some of it has made its way into Arizona.”

Weather experts said there was almost a 50 percent chance of rain in the Valley by mid-afternoon Saturday.

Up north, the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff bureau was expecting rain and snow Saturday.

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