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Arizona sitting in rare territory for extreme drought conditions

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – After last summer’s poor monsoon followed by a weak winter, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows 55% of Arizona is in the exceptional drought category, the worst level.

Recent data from the Drought Monitor found 87% of Arizona is in either extreme or exceptional drought.

University of Arizona climate scientist Mike Crimmins says the timeframe for June 2020 to March 2021 was the driest on record in Arizona.

“That stat is striking. The last 10 months have been record dry,” Crimmins said.

“The average statewide precipitation from June through March is usually 11 inches and we only had 4 inches during this period,” he said. “The record dry monsoon [and] dry winter combo created this.”

And Crimmins says Arizona has run out of time to make up any of the deficit as the state has entered the driest months of the year – April, May and June.

(U.S. Drought Monitor)

But there’s a glimmer of hope.

The outlook from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center does suggest a tilt in the odds toward above-average precipitation for the monsoon season from June thru September, Crimmins says.

But it’s still early and this is a longer lead outlook.

Arizona is already dealing with wildfires. That threat will only intensify until the heavy monsoon rainfall hopefully shows up in late June or early July.

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