Southwest Climate Outlook September 2003

Date issued

Drought continues in the Southwest. There have been short-term improvements in north-central and east-central Arizona, especially at elevations above 7000 feet, associated with early September precipitation. These rains have resulted in the return of flow to several Flagstaff area ephemeral streams, and some understory growth in Mogollon Rim forests. However, most of Arizona and virtually all of New Mexico remains under severe to extreme hydrological drought conditions. Julio Betancourt, a drought researcher at the USGS Desert Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, speculates that a climate pattern characterized by warm water in the North Atlantic Ocean and cool water in the Northeast Pacific Ocean is driving persistent drought conditions similar to the 1950s (Associated Press, September 17, 2003). Long-term drought conditions have threatened the endangered Sonoran pronghorn population in Arizona, prompting an emergency recovery plan coordinated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (Tucson Citizen, September 8, 2003). The city of Gilbert, Arizona mandated a 5% decrease in water use at town facilities and open spaces, as well as encouraging residents, businesses, and homeowners associations to voluntarily decrease the water use by 5% (Arizona Republic, September 20, 2003).

Published by the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS), with support from University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, the Arizona State Climate Office, and the New Mexico State Climate office.

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