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Tue, May 21

Is Arizona's long drought nearing an end?

On Sept. 16, Phoenix, Arizona, sustained record flooding. (Jon Roig/Courtesy photo)

On Sept. 16, Phoenix, Arizona, sustained record flooding. (Jon Roig/Courtesy photo)

After historic summer rainfall in Arizona, the state still is in a drought, but that may change over the next three months.

Beginning this month and continuing through February, Arizona should be entering El Niño conditions that could bring above-average rainfall, weather researcher David Fimeral said.

"The latest three-month outlook looks good for Arizona," said Fimeral, the associate research meteorologist with the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nevada.

The rains that hit Arizona over the summer made an impact on most of the state, however some areas saw little to no rain that they really needed.

"We did see some improvement in the central and north central part of the state, as well as the southeastern and southwestern parts of the state," Fimeral said. "There are some areas of the state that didn't see a lot of precipitation, mainly around the four corners region."

According to the National Weather Service, this historic summer for Arizona started slowly with no rain falling in Tucson and Phoenix in June. In July, 1.43 inches fell in Tucson, while .06 inches fell in Phoenix. The most rain came in September for both Tucson and Phoenix, with 2.76 and 5.11 inches respectively. August saw a lot of rainfall as well with 1.17 inches falling in Phoenix and 1.89 inches in Tucson.

Apache County and parts of Graham and Pinal counties could really use the rain, Fimeral said.

Tucson also did not get enough rain this summer to lift it out the drought. However, "we haven't reached the level of drought that would restrict water usage in Tucson," said Susanna Eden, assistant director for the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center in Tucson.

"We're still in a drought," she said. "We got some good rainfall, but we would need a lot more to take us out of the drought."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Science & Services Monthly Climate Update shows 29.5 percent of the United States is in a drought.

The Daily Courier contributed to this article.


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