Weather pattern La Nina will stifle rain in Arizona

Apr 1, 2016, 9:51 AM

PHOENIX — The weather pattern that warms the Pacific Ocean, referred to as “El Nino,” had the promise of delivering big rain and snowfall to Arizona as it had done in the past.

For the most part, though, El Nino was a nonstarter. Now comes its sister weather phenomenon, “La Nina,” which is caused by cooler ocean waters. Meteorologist Rob Carlmark in Sacramento said to expect a dry winter and 2017 spring.

“You can occasionally be wrong in the beginning and wrong all the way through and that’s what we saw with this El Nino. In the past La Nina has typically been dry but it could be different.”

Phoenix hasn’t had measurable rainfall since Jan. 31. Flagstaff and other high country areas saw the first snowfall since Feb. 1 this week.

El Nino was considered among the strongest events of its kind ever recorded. California and the Pacific Northwest took the brunt while Arizona was mostly left high and dry.

There were a few storms in early January. Carlmark, who worked in the Phoenix area a few years ago, said Arizona faced two major challenges as a result.

“I think there will be issues with the reservoirs on the Salt River and Verde River systems,” he said.

“They rely entirely on snowpack, so even a great monsoon this summer won’t really help those reservoir levels. Arizona is also set up for a very bad wildfire season with the lack of rain and record warm temperatures over the past two months.”

As of Friday morning Salt River Project reservoirs on the Salt River and Verde River systems, which supply most of the Valley’s water, stood at 58 percent.

That matches last year figure on this date.

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Weather pattern La Nina will stifle rain in Arizona