Arizona’s drought is over… or not

The Arizona drought is over and not a desert anymore, right?

Not really. However, the Drought Monitor Report did suggest that all of the snow and rain this fall and winter gave the state a good soaking. While this is good news, the difference between short-term events and long-term effects must be kept in perspective.

The short-term drought has to do with things such as dried up vegetation or the water levels in rivers. The precipitation the state received before January 2016 is due mainly to El Nino effects. However, short-term conditions can change rapidly.

In fact, the precipitation that will be helping the vegetation grow strong this spring could make the hot months of fire season more dangerous and damaging.  The new plant growth will use up its supply of soil moisture and dry out.  This condition creates the perfect environment for out-of-control fires to spread.

The longer notion of drought applies to the overall storage of water in the soil and reservoirs. Arizona remains being affected by a 15-year long drought. Water resources can take quite a bit of time to grow back to normal levels. A few days of wet weather is not enough, even if it is also a wet winter, to resupply a long-term drought for Arizona.

There will need to be a few yearly cycles of mild summers and wet winters to reclaim the water storage.  But generally, that is not the type of weather Arizona sees.

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