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Arizona welcomes above-average snowpack

PHOENIX — El Nino — which typically brings a dry, wet winter to Arizona — pulled a disappearing act in the fall but climatologists are pleasantly surprised by what they’re seeing.

“The Mogollon Rim is around 218 percent above the norm for snowpack, and the Verde System is at about the same level,” said climatologist Nancy Selover.

Arizona’s reservoirs, including Roosevelt Lake, are at 36 percent of capacity, which in this case is a good thing because they’ll have room to hold the spring runoff. Meanwhile, the snowpack in Colorado is at about half of what it should be. That snowpack feeds the Colorado River, Lake Mead, Lake Powell and the Central Arizona Project, but Selover said she’s not concerned about that yet.

“It would be 2015 or 2016 before we would get worried but we hope it doesn’t come to that. We hope January turns the corner for Colorado,” she said.

A drought has taken a huge toll on the Midwest. The mighty Mississippi River is at historic lows and some are wondering if we could see the same here. Selover said it’s a totally different type of drought than Arizona has been in for almost two decades.

“They’re more dependent on rainfall for crop irrigation,” she said. “We tend to pump more groundwater as a normal course of business. They tend not to and we are used to this because we’re a desert.”