Drought Information Statement
Issued by NWS Flagstaff, AZ

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Drought Information Statement
National Weather Service Flagstaff AZ
230 PM MST Thu May 17 2018

...Drought Conditions Continue to Worsen Across Northern Arizona...


One of the warmest and driest fall and winter periods on record has
resulted in a rapid onset of drought conditions across northern and
central Arizona. Conditions will continue to worsen as we head into
the driest time of the year climatologically (late May/June), with
relief unlikely until at least Monsoon season later this summer. In
the latest US Drought Monitor issued May 17th, Exceptional Drought
(D4) persists over the northern half of Navajo and Apache counties,
including the communities of Winslow, Ganado, and Chinle. The
remainder of Navajo and Apache Counties, Gila County, Eastern
Coconino and southern Yavapai Counties are in Extreme Drought (D3).
Extreme drought has also spread westward to include the Grand
Canyon. The western two-thirds of Coconino and northern Yavapai
Counties including Flagstaff and Seligman are in Severe Drought (D2).
Ninety-seven percent of the state is in Severe Drought or worse,
an abrupt change to the beginning of the water year (Oct. 1) when
none of the state was in these drought categories.

Summary of Impacts...

Rangeland conditions continue to be very poor with little forage.
Water hauling for both livestock and wildlife in ongoing. Emergency
Drought Declarations have been made on the Navajo Nation in
northeast Arizona and Navajo County. The US Department of
Agriculture (USDA) has designated Apache, Coconino, Gila, and Navajo
Counties as primary natural disaster areas due to losses and damages
caused by the drought.

The lack of spring snowmelt caused well below normal streamflow,
limiting filling of reservoirs and recharge of aquifers. Snowpack
over the higher elevations was sporadic and much less than normal.
This caused limited winter recreation opportunities.

The lack of precipitation over the fall and winter combined with a
warm and dry spring has created elevated wildland fire danger. Dry
forests and rangeland have led to area National Forests putting
progressively more severe fire restrictions in place much earlier
than normal. Yavapai County has implemented a county-wide fire ban.
Early wildfire activity includes the Tinder Fire in southeast
Coconino County which resulted in a lengthy evacuation of
communities and the loss of multiple homes. The Viewpoint Fire
near Prescott Valley also resulted in a short duration evacuation
and the loss of multiple structures. If weather conditions remain
suitable through the spring, fire season could be more severe than
usual. The Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook (issued
by National Interagency Fire Center) calls for above normal fire
potential over the eastern half of Arizona through May. By June,
this threat spreads west to include nearly all of Arizona.

Climate Summary...

The current water year (since Oct. 1) has been among the warmest and
driest on record. Seasonal snowfall amounts were very low, less
than 30 percent of normal for most areas.

            Precipitation Summary for Water Year to Date
                      (Oct 1, 2017 - May 16, 2018)
                Precip      Normal      Percent     Rank
                                        of Normal   Driest

Flagstaff       5.70"       13.09"      44%         5th
Winslow         0.33"        3.55"       9%         1st
Prescott        1.81"        7.11"      25%         1st
Payson          3.36"       13.43"      25%         1st
Show Low        3.20"        8.55"      37%         4th
Chinle          1.23"        5.53"      22%         1st
Page            1.92"        5.33"      36%         9th

Precipitation/Temperature Outlook...

The precipitation outlook for the rest of May into June from the NWS
Climate Prediction Center calls for equal chances of above, near,
and below normal precipitation as there is no clear signal to
suggest drier or wetter conditions. It should be noted that even
normal precipitation through this period would not be enough to
affect the drought status as the normal amounts for this 6-week
period are less than one inch. The preliminary outlook for Monsoon
season (July-Sept) indicates a slight tilt in the odds toward above
normal rainfall for all of northern Arizona. The odds of a wetter
than normal season are highest over the northern third of the state.

Temperature outlooks indicate that warmer than normal conditions are
favored through the coming summer.

Hydrologic Summary and Outlook...

A lack of mountain snowpack led to very low seasonal spring runoff.
Reservoir and groundwater recharge has been minimal and storage in
smaller reservoirs continues to drop. Observed and forecast
streamflow indicates values of 10 to 30 percent of normal through
May. Stock ponds are dry or nearly dry across the region.

Next Issuance Date...

Drought Information Statements from this office are normally issued
on the third Thursday of each month in which extreme or exceptional
(D3-D4) drought conditions exist in any part of northern Arizona.
The next statement will be issued on or around June 21, 2018.


Related Websites:

Additional information is available at the following locations:

NWS Forecast Office Flagstaff: weather.gov/Flagstaff
National Integrated Drought Information System: drought.gov
US Drought Monitor: droughtmonitor.unl.edu
NWS Climate Prediction Center: www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov
Arizona State Climate Office: azclimate.asu.edu
Arizona Dept of Water Resources: new.azwater.gov/drought
Western Region Climate Center: wrcc.dri.edu
US Geological Survey: water.usgs.gov


Information included in this statement was compiled from a multitude
of federal, state, and local agencies.

Questions or comments...

National Weather Service Flagstaff AZ
PO Box 16057
Bellemont, AZ 86015
(928) 556-9161

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.