Drought conditions in Arizona getting worse thanks to dry monsoon season

Above normal temperatures and a lack of rain are a bad combination when it comes to the drought in Arizona.

Just a few months ago, most of the state was nearly drought-free, but that's not the case anymore.

July 2020 turned out to be the hottest month on record for Phoenix, and most of the month was also very dry. 

"We’re still sort of in a June-like pattern, where it’s hot and dry," said Jaret Rogers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

"July is typically a wet month, and not having that precipitation in July was a significant problem for us," said Arizona State Climatologist Nancy Selover.

Just three months ago, about 80% of Arizona was drought-free. By the beginning of August, 82% of the state is looking at some level of drought. That includes the Valley, which is listed as being under severe drought conditions.

"The whole West is accustomed to periods of drought, so you can have a wet year, but you’ll never going to take that for granted because it can easily dry out for several years following that," said Rogers.

If Arizona ends up with another wet winter, it won’t be so much of a big deal. The problem, however, is a wet winter is not guaranteed.

"We have no reason to believe this is really going to be a really wet winter, and so, to not have the monsoon moisture is a significant problem," said Selover. "There are stock ponds that are going dry."

Kathy Jacobs with the University of Arizona says in the long run, the drought can have a significant impact on some areas. 
"There are very few parts of Arizona that still have flowing water in the natural streams. Those parts of Arizona are very much at risk in terms of climate change, drying up those streams or affecting habitat and natural areas," said Jacobs.

Bad drought conditions reported across New Mexico, Arizona

Large portions of New Mexico and much of neighboring Arizona face severe or extreme drought conditions.