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Winter Storms Provide Minor Improvement to Regional Drought

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Following an extremely warm, dry monsoon, fall and early winter in which precipitation totals were the driest in recorded history for much of the region, a wet and snowy January has finally brought some drought relief. Snowfall from recent storms has allowed the high country to rebound to nearly 70% of average values. Much of the drought impacts have been focused in short term influences such as forage for ranchers, water availability for land wildlife, and small streams for aquatic ecosystems.

The National Drought Monitor depicts some reduction in “Extreme Drought” over southern Coconino and Yavapai counties, recently downgraded to “Severe Drought”.

Flagstaff, Arizona, reported 43.5 inches of snow from January 19-29, boosting its season-to-date total from 7.1 to 50.6 inches (from 17 to 97 percent of normal).

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Drought Emergency Declaration remains in effect for the state of Arizona as signed by the governor in accordance with the Arizona Drought Preparedness Plan. The continuation of this Drought Emergency has been recommended by the Drought Interagency Coordinating Group in their bi-annual meeting on November 10, 2020. This recommendation is based on long term precipitation deficits, along with ongoing negative impacts across the state.