Editorial: Don't think rain negates fire risk
Despite recent, uncharacteristic rains, the region's drought is not over.
The state entered a potential 20- to 30-year hydrological drought cycle in about 1995. That would have us beginning the 15th year of lower-than-historically-normal annual rain totals. What we have experienced in the past week to 10 days would account for surface moisture, which is different than hydrological or aquifer levels.
Problem is when one sees anywhere from nearly half an inch to as much as 3.5 inches of rain accumulating, causing flooding or greening up the landscape, it's tempting to assume that now everything is OK.
May typically is the second-driest month of the year, yet this year some northern Arizona communities have recorded more than an inch of rain. To wit:
Prescott has exceeded its 111-year average May precipitation of 0.47 inches by 160 percent, with 0.75 inches falling between May 21 and Friday evening at the official Sundog measuring site on the northeast side of town;
In Yavapai County, Jerome has received 1.31 inches, Clarkdale got 1.58 inches, Crown King received 1.86 inches, Camp Verde got 0.76 inches, and Sedona recorded 2 inches; and,
Holbrook set an all-time single-day record of 3.5 inches on May 22. The Weather Service received reports of flooding in Page, Kayenta and Oak Creek Canyon.
"This is a very rare event to have this kind of pattern," said Robert Bohlin of the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff. He added that the weather patterns are not like the monsoons that usually arrive here in early to mid-July.
Thus, enjoy the moisture; however, know that the conditions can and will turn quickly - and we all must heed the fire-use restrictions that are presently in effect.
And, to look ahead, the Forest Service is rating west-central Arizona as the driest in the Southwest for the coming week.
Stay safe - and smart - out there.
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