Climate expert: No easy way out of Arizona drought

Mar 20, 2014, 5:00 AM | Updated: 5:00 am

PHOENIX — Arizona has been in a drought for 17 years and Arizona State University climate expert Randy Cerveny said it’s now completely in the hands of Mother Nature as to when it will all end.

Things don’t get better when the Valley received only one rainstorm over the entire winter. Cerveny said, without that March 1 soaking, we’d be in desperate shape but it didn’t put a dent in the drought.

“That storm helped a bit but we need many more storms that dump a lot of snow,” he said.

The state’s snowpack is almost non-existent. But Cerveny said there’s some hope on the horizon that we will not see a repeat of this winter.

“We are all hoping in the weather industry for El Nino, the warming of the Pacific Ocean waters which shifts the storm track so the storms are more likely to come into Arizona than go up into the northwest.”

But he said even a serious El Nino event won’t bring an end to Arizona’s drought.

As for the changing climate’s impact on our drought, the jury is still out.

“When you have one of the most complex systems that we can study, the climate system, trying to tease out what is natural variability and what is human variability is very difficult,” said Cerveny. “The best that we can do is put it into computer models and those models tell us how the effects we are seeing will be magnified in the future.”

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Climate expert: No easy way out of Arizona drought