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Unread 02-25-2012, 01:36 PM
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
3,253 posts, read 3,951,959 times
Reputation: 2751
Default Phoenix's last official measurable rain was December 18th. Is anybody concerned???

Most everybody will agree that the high temperatures lately have been decent: mostly 70s, a few days in the low 80s, and a cool down expected soon to drop temps to the 60s. However, there is a problem associated with this "nice weather": no rain in well over two months, and no rain in the forecast.

This is concerning because we are typically in one of the wetter periods of the year ... and when there is a lack of moisture during the winter months, it tends to lead to more serious issues: increased pollution, more dust, an increase in Valley Fever cases, increased water usage, and a greater risk for wildfires (including possibly an earlier & longer fire season if this trend continues).

If anybody has doubts about the effects of a drier than normal winter, look at some of the previous ones in the last 10 years. After the dry winter of 2001-2002, the largest forest fire in Arizona history (Rodeo/Chedeski) occurred. Wildfires were burning as early as February during the record dry winter of 2005-2006 ... and after last year's dry winter, the Wallow Fire overtook Rodeo/Chedeski as the largest in state history. What does this tell us?
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Unread 02-25-2012, 01:47 PM
 
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
1,261 posts, read 1,307,244 times
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What a bad time for my watering system to break.
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Unread 02-25-2012, 02:15 PM
 
Location: Sonoran Desert
15,151 posts, read 17,230,181 times
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The conditions that preceded the R-C fire were not the same as we are having now. That year was the worst in a series of low rainfall years. Bark beetles had devastated huge areas of the forest leaving tinder box trees. In contrast, the last couple years have seen ample to excess precip on the mountains. In fact, there is still snow above 7K feet and things are wet and soggy along the top of the rim (I was just there last week). There have been a few minor storms that drop a few inches of snow throughout the winter. The forest looks to be in reasonable condition, certainly compared to 05. It was so dry at my property up north that the oaks did not even leaf out that year! We could still have a wet March. Nevertheless, I hope the forest service has learned from the past couple years and clamps on tight restrictions sooner rather than later.

As for the deserts, it really doesn't matter much unless you are a woodland creature. It will be tough for them if March stays dry. In fact, the fire danger is lessened significantly in dry years as there are no wildflowers and few grasses that come up. There is going to be some serious dust though when the winds start up next month (or Monday).

Water supplies on the Salt and Colorado are OK to good. We'll survive another year I am sure. Maybe next year will be the big one for rain!
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Unread 02-25-2012, 02:35 PM
 
2,926 posts, read 5,252,734 times
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Am I concerned? Not really, I try to not worry about things that I have no control over...what can I do about it? I do miss down rain but it is what it is.
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Unread 02-25-2012, 03:40 PM
 
Location: In the Deem Hills of NW Phoenix
798 posts, read 560,767 times
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Not that I'm not concerned by drought, and always welcome rain... but I'm in northwest Phoenix and I've had measurable rain on three occasions since then. (I keep a rain gauge and report rainfall to CoCoRaH's.) Rainfall in the Valley is pretty sporadic. Some locations in the Valley and parts of Arizona have received much more.
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Unread 02-25-2012, 05:26 PM
 
2,926 posts, read 5,252,734 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S. Chris Webb View Post
Not that I'm not concerned by drought, and always welcome rain... but I'm in northwest Phoenix and I've had measurable rain on three occasions since then. (I keep a rain gauge and report rainfall to CoCoRaH's.) Rainfall in the Valley is pretty sporadic. Some locations in the Valley and parts of Arizona have received much more.
You know, you're right...I almost forgot but we also had some measurement rain here near 67th Ave and Happy Valley not too long ago...I want to say it was .04" that registered.
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Unread 02-25-2012, 06:41 PM
 
155 posts, read 44,064 times
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I would like to add that the Phoenix metro area is fine as far as water is concerned. There was a book called "bird on fire" that just came out that talks about the sustainability of phoenix (water included) and you would think the sky was falling. To get to the point there are lots of people who have no idea what they are talking about.

SRP has been planning for water consuption for over 50 years and central Arizona is in better shape with its water supplies then boston or NYC. Arizona gets a huge part of the Colorado river (where Nevada only gets a fraction). But that is only part of it. Lakes like Roosevelt are used to store water for when it is needed. Also keep in mind that the Colorado is just one source for phoenix of river water. Then there is the underground water that is recharged through grey water return. Finally snow pack in the high country is good and that is important. That melting in the spring also contributes to the metro phoenix water supply.

So to put things in perspective central AZ has plenty of water comming in, even if the water was not comming in it has plenty of reserves and is in better shape then cities that recieve a lot more rainfall. Las Vegas and Tuscon did not plan while Phoenix did and you will see the problems for Tuscon and Vegas in the comming years. Bottom line. Am I concerned there is little rainfall? Not at all.

FYI It does not mean to be wasteful though. So many property owners plant grass and plants that take tons of water as if we are living in Kansas.
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Unread 02-26-2012, 09:25 AM
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
3,253 posts, read 3,951,959 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponderosa View Post
The conditions that preceded the R-C fire were not the same as we are having now. That year was the worst in a series of low rainfall years. Bark beetles had devastated huge areas of the forest leaving tinder box trees. In contrast, the last couple years have seen ample to excess precip on the mountains. In fact, there is still snow above 7K feet and things are wet and soggy along the top of the rim (I was just there last week). There have been a few minor storms that drop a few inches of snow throughout the winter. The forest looks to be in reasonable condition, certainly compared to 05. It was so dry at my property up north that the oaks did not even leaf out that year! We could still have a wet March. Nevertheless, I hope the forest service has learned from the past couple years and clamps on tight restrictions sooner rather than later.
Last winter did not have ample precipitation in the mountains. There were a few storms in February last year that brought some rain & snow ... not a lot by any means, but still enough to create some snowpack. There was even some light snow in April & May in the high country. But it was still below normal, and wasn't enough to stop the fire season from being one of the most active & destructive. The lack of moisture in January & February this year seems to be much more significant than last year. If the trend continues, expect another harsh fire season ... possibly even earlier & longer than last year's.

As far as the series of low rainfall years, it appears we might be on the same track as the early 2000s for the same thing to happen. Last year was dry, and this year is heading in the same direction so far. Even an active monsoon doesn't help all that much because it is mostly the winter moisture we depend on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ponderosa View Post
There is going to be some serious dust though when the winds start up next month (or Monday).
That's one of the things I'm concerned about. I don't want to have a repeat of last year's "haboobs", which were the result (in part) of a previously dry winter & spring. The air is much more difficult to breathe when there is so much dust ... not good for those with health issues.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HX_Guy View Post
You know, you're right...I almost forgot but we also had some measurement rain here near 67th Ave and Happy Valley not too long ago...I want to say it was .04" that registered.
Whoosh! Where was Noah and his ark when that rain fell?!
()

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macaw1981 View Post
I would like to add that the Phoenix metro area is fine as far as water is concerned. There was a book called "bird on fire" that just came out that talks about the sustainability of phoenix (water included) and you would think the sky was falling. To get to the point there are lots of people who have no idea what they are talking about.
As far as the water situation, I would tend to agree that metro Phoenix is in better shape than say, Las Vegas or Tucson. However, that's only one side of the story. Water USAGE dramatically increases during these dry periods. Like it or not, many people still have grass lawns and prefer them over desert landscaping ... and it's not wasteful to have greenery. It's actually more attractive and COOLER to have this type of vegetation than a rock/desert yard. It can be quite expensive to convert an established grass lawn to desert or xeriscape ... and then again, it is very expensive to have to constantly water grass & trees when it is unusually dry like this. So what is a homeowner supposed to do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Macaw1981 View Post
Finally snow pack in the high country is good and that is important. That melting in the spring also contributes to the metro phoenix water supply.
The snowpack in the high country hasn't been all that great. It is better than the record drought of 2005-2006 (thanks to some nice storms in December of last year), but the snowpack is still below what is considered normal. I'm not really concerned about the lack of water supplies to Phoenix ... I'm more concerned about the expense of water usage when we don't get the normal winter rains. It's not easy on the budget.

Seems to me that people don't give much thought about the lack of moisture now because the temperatures are ideal. However, the low humidity & lack of rain is not good in the big picture. All it really does is give bragging rights to the snowbirds & sun freaks. It's funny that very few people are concerned now ... but when the fires & dust storms start later on, people suddenly start wishing for rain. It's really quite backward when you think about it.
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Unread 02-26-2012, 09:53 AM
 
Location: Ash Fork
509 posts, read 740,591 times
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i live up North of I-40 and i have not had much snow or rain either . all that does is make weeds grow nice and big only to dry out and becomes fuel for the fires . to top it off is that i live surrounded by trees all around me . I-40 is only as the crow flies a mile from me . passing vehicles can throw out a cig and my house could easily be history .
so , reallyis a no win situation .
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Unread 02-26-2012, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Sonoran Desert
15,151 posts, read 17,230,181 times
Reputation: 7570
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zonie5 View Post
i live up North of I-40 and i have not had much snow or rain either . all that does is make weeds grow nice and big only to dry out and becomes fuel for the fires . to top it off is that i live surrounded by trees all around me . I-40 is only as the crow flies a mile from me . passing vehicles can throw out a cig and my house could easily be history .
so , reallyis a no win situation .
I feel your pain. Dry or not, every year from March till the monsoon hits I worry about my place up north burning up due to some dumb azz with an unattended campfire. My biggest fear is that the woods burn and the fire fighters save my place. I'd rather not have it if the big pines were gone.

Could be a half foot or more of snow coming in tomorrow, though. Keep your fingers crossed.
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