The annual average for rainfall in Payson is 22 inches.
Over the first eight months of 2002, the town has been barely dampened by just 3.7 inches of precipitation.
"It's disheartening, I can tell you that," said Anna Mae Deming, Payson's National Weather Service observer. "I knew it was awful, but I didn't know it was this awful.
According to Deming's measurements, the year's rainfall totals to date are Jan., 0.33 inches; Feb., 0.02 inches; March, 0.09 inches; April, 0.45 inches; May and June, 0 inches; July, 1.7 inches; Aug., 1.11 inches.
"As of the first day of June, I had worked 54 years in the National Weather Service," Deming said, "and I have never seen numbers this low. It's actually scary."
It is also a far, dry cry from the Rim country summers Deming remembers from her childhood.
"On the 4th of July back when Payson was very small, the ranchers got together and held a big barbecue," she said. "We had to eat by noon because it would rain by 1 o'clock. You could just depend on it. We'd stop watering our gardens and everything else by July 4, simply because it rained almost every afternoon. You could set your clock by it.
"Today when I look out into my back yard, I see dead manzanita. I had to have three fruit trees cut down. They're dying, no matter how much I water. It's just awful."
Above-normal temperatures and drier-than-normal conditions occurred across much of the United States in July, and led to persistent or worsening drought in many states, according to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
At the end of July, 49 percent of the contiguous United States was in moderate to extreme drought, based on the Palmer Drought Index a widely used measure of drought severity which uses numerical values derived from weather and climactic data to classify moisture conditions.
Precipitation was significantly below average in 27 states in July. New York had its second driest July on record, and it was the third driest July since 1895 in New Hampshire and Colorado. Drier-than-average conditions have persisted in many areas for several seasons in some parts of the country for several years.
The past 12 months were the driest August through July on record in four southeastern states (Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia) and two Rocky Mountain states (Colorado and Wyoming).
And Arizona was among three other states (along with Nevada and Delaware) which had their second-driest August through July in the 107-year period of recorded weather.