Arizona Drought

PHOENIX — While a deluge of monsoon storms in Arizona last month caused severe flooding, all that moisture did improve the state’s drought conditions.

Most of the state remained at or above average for precipitation in August, but much of central and southern Arizona received nearly 200% of normal August precipitation, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Areas along the Mogollon Rim and northern Arizona, including Flagstaff, Prescott and St. Johns, are at or above normal amounts of precipitation for the water year. August was the 16th wettest for Tucson, building the third wettest monsoon season to date for Tucson.

Fire restrictions were removed over State Trust land. There was much improvement to ranching stock ponds and forage. Normally dry channels in southern Arizona experienced flow over several days, and small amounts of inflow were recorded in some reservoirs, notably with the Salt River reservoirs.

Roosevelt Lake is heading into the winter almost 70% full, while the reservoirs on the Colorado hold only about a third of their capacity. Last week, the waning monsoon was still delivering about 1,102 acre-feet daily to the Salt and Verde reservoirs — about twice the normal flow.

The productive monsoon season improved many ecological and agricultural drought levels across Arizona and eliminated all areas of Exceptional (D4) drought in the state. Most of the state is now at Moderate (D1) drought (47%). Small areas of Mohave, La Paz, Cochise, and Coconino counties, and moderate areas of Apache and Navajo counties remain in Extreme (D3) drought conditions. Abnormally dry conditions (D0), which is technically not considered drought, now encompass over 13% of the state, according to the report prepared by the Arizona Drought Monitoring Technical Committee released Monday.

La Niña conditions were already starting to develop over the Pacific Ocean with a 75% chance of a mature La Niña phase during winter 2021-22. A winter La Niña typically results in drier than average conditions across Arizona.

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