2021 monsoon makes a big splash in Arizona’s deep drought

Jul 29, 2021, 9:00 AM | Updated: 12:28 pm
(AP Photo/Denise Cathey)...
(AP Photo/Denise Cathey)
(AP Photo/Denise Cathey)

PHOENIX – A series of powerful storms that brought days of heavy rain to most of Arizona has made an impact on the drought.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 52% of the state is now in extreme or exceptional drought, down dramatically from 84% last week. Now, just 8.6% of the state is in the deepest drought category called exceptional. That’s down from 36% last week.

University of Arizona climate scientist Mike Crimmins says Arizona just experienced “epic rainfall” and there couldn’t have been a better type of rainfall event in the summer to improve short-term drought conditions.

“It was widespread so almost all of Arizona got some precipitation,” he said. “It was a long duration event so it soaked the soils really well. It occurred in multiple pulses and water just started to runoff everywhere.”

Monsoon season, which begins June 15 and ends Sept. 30, has already surpassed rain totals for the previous two season combined, the National Weather Service in Phoenix said last week.

The Valley has received 1.67 inches of rain this month, based on the official gauge at Sky Harbor Airport, making for the wettest July since 2013.

More rain is on the way: the weather bureau predicted a 50% chance of rain Thursday evening and 40% Friday and Saturday.

But, Crimmins said, the recent storms didn’t solve all of the state’s drought problems.

“This drought took us a while to get into and so it will take us a while to climb back out,” he said.

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2021 monsoon makes a big splash in Arizona’s deep drought