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Forecasters Predict Arizona’s Drought Conditions Will Return

seasonal drought map march 2016
(Photo courtesy of NOAA)
An ourlook of the drought conditions in the western United States.

The rains expected from a strong El Niño warming pattern have not materialized in the desert Southwest. National climate forecasters predict Arizona’s drought conditions will return this spring.

The hoped-for rains from El Niño were predicted to wipe out the region’s drought. But they didn’t develop.

El Niño is a climate phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, often creating conditions leading to heavy winter rainfall. The rains came, but not to Arizona and much of the country’s southern tier.

Jon Gottschalck is the chief climate predictor for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and gave this grim forecast last week.

RELATED: New Climate Models Indicate Weakening El Niño, 50% Chance Of La Niña

“Drought is expected to persist in central and Southern California, southwest Nevada and Western Arizona, northwest Montana and Hawaii through the month of June,” Gottschalck said.

Gottschalck said current El Niño conditions mean ongoing drought

“For most of Arizona and western New Mexico where wintertime precipitation was substantially below normal,” he said.

This El Niño contributed to a milder than average winter across nearly all of the country, Gottschalck said, and some regions saw rain totals well above normal.

Sara Hammond has an extensive background in journalism as well as corporate communication. A graduate of the University of Arizona’s (UA) School of Journalism, Hammond interned at the Tucson Citizen and, after graduation, spent 10 years reporting for the Portland Press Herald in Maine.