Signs point to another wet winter season in Arizona’s future

Apr 14, 2023, 4:05 AM

Horse Mesa spill gate testing. (Salt River Project Photo)...

Horse Mesa spill gate testing. (Salt River Project Photo)

(Salt River Project Photo)

PHOENIX – Arizona might have a second consecutive wet winter on the way, according to a state climate expert, although predictions for the last one missed the mark.

“What we’re looking at for next winter is actually El Niño, which traditionally brings storms and moisture to us,” climatologist Randy Cerveny, a professor of geographical sciences at Arizona State University, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday.

“So if that prediction holds true, this last winter might be matched by this next winter.”

Nearly 100% of the state was experiencing drought conditions as recently as mid-July, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, but the situation changed dramatically after several wetter-than-usual months.

Now, less than 2% of the state is in drought conditions, the lowest level for April since 2009.

Cerveny said last winter’s heavy rain and snow took forecasters by surprise because of how the Pacific Ocean climate patterns of El Niño (warmer waters) and La Niña (cooler waters) usually affect Arizona.

“We were under what’s called La Niña conditions this winter, which normally for the Southwest is associated with dryer, hotter weather,” Cerveny said.

“Well, obviously, that La Niña didn’t do that, so we are pretty happy with it. But it leaves us with our heads being scratched trying to figure out what happened.”

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

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Signs point to another wet winter season in Arizona’s future