Arizonas water year has come to an end and despite our awful summer, Arizona isnt doing as bad as we thought.
When it comes to managing our water supply in Arizona, it is all about what takes place during our water year, “which actually starts October 1
through September 30
, said Erinanne Saffell, Arizona State Climatologist.
When we look back at October 2022, it was the start of a crazy rainy season in Arizona. The southwest was hit by back-to-back atmospheric rivers. But it wasnt just the rain.
It was also a really cold winter which is exceptional when we are getting winter precipitation and its cold it will stay in the form of snow which really helps our water supply, said Saffell.
How our cold and record snowpack helped was when the snow began to melt very slowly. And with the ground already saturated thanks to the 2022 monsoon season, the snow melt was allowed to run into our river systems and aquifers.
But then April came, which was hot and dry, and that trend continued into our summer.
Even though Arizona has two wet seasons, we actually look at winter and summer as rainy seasons our water supply really benefits from what happens in the winter, said Saffell.
Fortunately, we had enough precipitation from the winter which allowed Arizona to have an average water year.
But considering that Arizona has been in a 30-year drought and we are about to start year 31, another wet winter like last year would be exceptional.
That would help get us on the right track to correct what we have been dealing with during all of the drought deficits, said Saffell.
But will have to wait and see.
El Nino is a statistical relationship with how much precipitation we get its not an absolute in Arizona, said Saffell.
Historically in our drought period, we have had nine El Nino years and when we look at those nine years, seven of them have been wet and two of them have been dry.
Still, it will take time for Arizona to pull out of the drought.
Its more a series of dry years, and so if we look at the last 30 years, 20 of those years have been dry. So we have been dealing with a deficit for a long period of time and its going to take a little while to come out of that deficit, said Saffell.