Just 15 percent of Arizona remains in drought conditions after wet winter

Mar 3, 2017, 3:57 PM
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PHOENIX — Just 15 percent of Arizona is still experiencing drought conditions after the wettest winter in the state in seven years, a government agency said Friday.

Dino DeSimone with the Natural Resources Conservation Service said the big storm earlier this week gave Arizona a good bump in the snowpack.

“All of our sites are measuring normal to above normal,” he said.

This year is a big difference when compared to 2016. Last year, the state’s snowpack was all but gone by early March.

On a related note, this year’s runoff is much improved over last year. Millions of gallons of water have poured into Salt River Project reservoirs that haven’t been completely full since 2010.

Given the current snowpack and the coming runoff, DeSimone said they could be brimming once again.

“Optimistically, we’re looking at possibly filling the entire system through the spring.”

Salt River Project’s reservoir system is 72 percent full, up from 57 percent at this time last year. The largest water supplier in the chain is Roosevelt Lake, which is at 62 percent capacity.

SRP’s Patty Garcia-Lykens said the utility has released water from the reservoir system into the Salt River recently to make room for the coming runoff.

The National Weather Service said Flagstaff usually gets about 75 inches of snow by this date and they’re at 82 inches right now for the season.

Phoenix Sky Harbor, the official rain gauge for Phoenix, has recorded 2.34 inches of rain this year, more than a half-inch above average. Last year, just 1.31 inches of rain had been recorded.

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Just 15 percent of Arizona remains in drought conditions after wet winter