Arizona could possibly be in a ‘mega drought,’ expert says

Jun 27, 2018, 6:35 PM | Updated: Jun 28, 2018, 10:08 am
FILE - In this July 28, 2014 file photo, lightning strikes over Lake Mead near Hoover Dam at the La...

FILE - In this July 28, 2014 file photo, lightning strikes over Lake Mead near Hoover Dam at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

PHOENIX — Even if Arizona sees an exceptionally heavy monsoon season this summer, that will not end the long-term drought in the state, one expert said.

Randy Cerveny, a climatologist with Arizona State University, said the state is coming off one of its driest winters in years and that it would take several big winters in a row — along with strong monsoon seasons — to end the drought.

“We’ve been in a drought really since the start of this century,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “It’s been a really dry period, particularly in terms of the winters.”

Cerveny said the southwest has seen several “mega droughts” in the past that lasted more than a century and there is no guarantee that the state is not in another one right now.

“Most scientists are agreeing that the drought started right around the turn of the century, maybe a couple years earlier,” he added.

But that does not mean that there’s not good news for residents: Satellite images have shown that storms forming in Mexico are slowly inching their way north.

“The thing to be watching for in regard to monsoon is what’s going down in Mexico,” Cerveny said.

“If you notice from the satellite photos…you’ll start to see that there are more big thunderstorms that are starting to build up down in Mexico and everyday they are starting to inch up a little bit closer,” he added.

“That’s a sign that the monsoonal moisture is getting a little bit closer and eventually will get up here.”

And for those who are anxiously awaiting the first big monsoon storm of the season, no worries: Cerveny said the state will start to see more monsoons over the next couple of weeks.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report. 

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Arizona could possibly be in a ‘mega drought,’ expert says