La Nina is here and it’s not good news for Arizona’s drought

The problem is, la Nina moves those storms away from the Rocky Mountains, which means a thinner snowpack. And Arizona depends on the melting snowpack for water. /Cronkite News

Author: William Pitts | 12 News

 The good news is, Arizona will probably be nice and warm for the winter this year.

The bad news is, it’s because of La Nina, and that could make Arizona’s bad drought even worse.

“We are still within that drought,” Arizona State Climatologist Erinanne Saffell said. “It looks like our temperatures are increasing and so that also affects our drought.”

Saffell said La Nina, a large-scale Pacific weather pattern that translates to a warmer, drier winter, is probably headed our way.

“That moves the storms that would normally come here in Arizona,” Saffell said. “It moves them to the northern tier, so we tend not to get as many winter storms.

The problem is, la Nina moves those storms away from the Rocky Mountains, which means a thinner snowpack. And Arizona depends on the melting snowpack for water. 

The winter snow melts and the water runs downstream to reservoirs like Lake Powell and Lake Mead, which supplies much of the West with water. 

Both of those lakes are at historically low levels because of a 22-year-long drought.

Arizona has already had to make drastic cuts in the amount of water we get from Lake Mead, and the Bureau of Reclamation says there’s a chance Lake Powell won’t even be able to run its power plant in two years.

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