Drought expected to continue in Arizona through April

Jan 22, 2021, 4:05 AM
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(Pexels Photo)
(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX — Drought conditions are expected to continue in Arizona through at least the next three months, according to new projections released Thursday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

NOAA expects all of Arizona to remain in a persistent drought through at least the end of April as the La Nina weather pattern — a natural cooling of certain parts of the equatorial Pacific that usually leads to less rain and snow in the Southwest — continues to affect the state.

As of Tuesday, most of Arizona was in exceptional or extreme drought conditions, the two most intense drought categories from NOAA.

Precipitation has been harder to come by in the last year in the Grand Canyon State than in years past.

Phoenix received five inches of rain in 2020, the 28th-driest year since records started being kept in 1896.

The state’s capital received less rain than on average in every month of 2020 outside of February and March.

Phoenix also went 110 consecutive days without rain in 2020 until that streak was snapped Dec. 10.

The first recorded rain of 2021 in Phoenix came Tuesday when .01 inches fell at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, the city’s official measurement location.

Low precipitation numbers leading into Arizona’s monsoon season could trigger an expansive fire season, especially if this year’s monsoon season is also underwhelming.

Metro Phoenix had two days of rain — July 24 with a tenth of an inch, and Aug. 20 with nine-tenths of an inch — during last year’s monsoon season, which runs June 15 through Sept. 30.

More than 900,000 acres burned in Arizona in 2020, almost double the 520,000 acres that burned in 3,627 fires over the previous two years combined.

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Drought expected to continue in Arizona through April