The updates presented at the November 6, 2012 meeting confirmed that Arizona remains in long term drought with projections for warmer temperatures and increased wildfire risk. Key points include the following:
- The entire state continues to be in some level of drought, with the driest conditions continuing in the central and southeastern part of the state. The overall condition for the 2012 water year is moderate drought.
- The current outlook for winter 2012-2013 is slightly better chances for above average temperatures, and equal chances for above, below or near normal precipitation. The outlook for summer 2013 is increased chances of above average temperature, and equal chances for monsoon precipitation to be above, below, or near normal.
- The impact of drought on range and farmland resulted in a U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster designation for all Arizona counties. The average forage production across Arizona was approximately 63 percent of normal for 2012. Even though monsoon rainfall resulted in significant greening, many areas are still very dry, with drying stockponds and dry grasses in pasture land.
- Wildfires had less overall impact on forest health in 2012 than 2011, however, areas of reburn are becoming a concern, there has been an increase in defoliating insect activity possibly exacerbated by drought, and the continuing drought increases the state’s vulnerability to wildfires statewide. Also, the intensity of wildfires and their proximity to development are increasing.
Based on this information, the ICG unanimously recommended that both drought declarations be kept in place:
- Drought Emergency Declaration (PCA 99006) has been in effect since June 1999 and maintains the state’s ability to provide emergency response if needed. It also enables farmers and ranchers to obtain funding assistance through the Farm Service Agency if they experience production losses due to drought.
- The Drought Declaration for the State of Arizona (Executive Order 2007-10) was issued in May 2007 to raise awareness of Arizona’s continuing long-term drought and encourage conservation.
The updates presented at the May 10, 2012 Interagency Coordinating Group meeting confirmed that Arizona remains in long term drought, with 69% of the state experiencing severe to extreme drought compared to 31% a year ago. Projections include warmer temperatures, increased wildfire risk, and persisting or intensifying drought. Key points include the following:
- The temperature outlook for this summer is above normal, and the U.S. Drought Monitor Seasonal Drought Outlook predicts that drought in Arizona is likely to persist or intensify through July 2012. It is likely that conditions may continue to deteriorate until the monsoon begins, with little opportunity for notable improvement until at least the upcoming winter.
- The Verde and Salt River reservoir systems are currently at 64% of capacity, compared to 85% at this time last year (as of 5/17/12).
- Colorado River inflow into Lake Powell was 33% of normal, the third lowest on record since 1909 for April through June, and is projected to be 51% of normal for the water year (October 2011 through September 2012). The current Colorado River reservoir system storage stands at 62%. It is projected that Lake Powell and Lake Mead storage will generally decline through 2013.
- The continuing drought conditions have increased the state’s vulnerability to wildfires statewide, and fire restrictions are currently in effect for all counties. Other factors that contribute to the increased wildfire threat are the predicted warmer than normal temperatures, windy periods as upper level systems pass by, and the typically “dry” thunderstorms (lightening with little rain) early in the monsoon.
- The impact of drought, high winds, and wildfires on range and farmland have resulted in U.S. Department of Agriculture disaster designations for all counties except for two (Greenlee and Apache). Forage production is reduced and there are shortages in livestock water around the state.