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Mon, Oct. 14

Monsoon great in parts of Southwest, but not here

Prescott's 2006 monsoon didn't produce quite the rain that it did in other parts of the Southwest.

The National Weather Service measuring site on the northeast side of town recorded 6.35 inches of rain in July through September, compared to the 108-year average of 7.88 inches or the short-term average of 7.90 inches. Either way, it was only about 80 percent of average.

September was the only one of those three months that produced above-average precipitation this year, with two inches compared to the long-term average of 1.71 inches.

Areas such as New Mexico, southeastern Arizona and the higher-elevation Rim country saw as much as 300 percent of their average rainfall during those same months, sometimes leading to flooding problems and disaster declarations. New Mexico's July and August were the wettest in 112 years. These heavy rainfalls produced short-term drought relief.

Yavapai County's watersheds generally are in normal to moderate drought stages, although the Agua Fria and Bill Williams watersheds remain in a severe drought.

The reservoirs on the Verde River system were filled to only 49 percent of capacity by August.

The federal Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above-average chances for a warmer and wetter winter in Arizona, primarily because of the return of El Niño.

It will have a better idea of the strength of the El Niño in a few weeks, said George Howard of the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff.

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