Arizona’s long-term drought status map is updated quarterly. The long-term drought status for each watershed is determined by comparing the precipitation and streamflow percentiles for the past 24, 36 and 48 months to a 40 year historical record.
This report was prepared by the Arizona Drought Monitoring Technical Committee, May 5, 2016. The next update in early August will reflect the conditions of April, May and June.
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Long-term Drought Status Update: January - March 2016
Winter precipitation this year was well below average for an El Niño winter. The winter season had a strong start in November through January, then the storms stopped coming into Arizona. Most of the storms that crossed Utah brushed by northern Arizona, but left central and southern Arizona quite dry.
The upper and lower Colorado River basins are represented with no drought conditions due to the wet monsoon and the early winter storms, however these areas are starting to dry out.
For a while, streamflow was near normal in some areas, but has later fallen well below average in most parts of the state, and snow pack is long gone. Forest wildfire risk is expected to be above normal across southern Arizona through June due to fine fuels and dry conditions.
Further deterioration will depend on whether the monsoon is wet or not. Since the period from April through June is normally dry statewide, some deterioration is likely before the monsoon kicks in.
- NASA launches soil moisture mapping satellite 1/31/2015.