At the start of 2008, Payson and Gila County experienced abnormally dry conditions — a drought you might say — but with nearly 5 inches of rain and snow in the last month and rainfall totals above average for the year, we enter 2009 with no short-term drought in sight.
Historically, the state has been in a long-term drought for more than 10 years. Brian Klimowski, meteorologist-in-charge at the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, said.
During the last decade, the state has been significantly behind in precipitation levels.
And although 2008 ended with normal rainfall totals, lakes around the state, such as Lake Powell, remain low, indicating a long-term drought.
In Payson, there was 21.44 inches of liquid precipitation for 2008 and 21.57 inches in 2007, according to the National Weather Service. These numbers hover around the 30-year average of 22.12 inches a year.
Gila County and the majority of Eastern Arizona were categorized as being in abnormally dry conditions at the start of 2008. Being abnormally dry is somewhere between drought and normal conditions, according to the National Weather Service.
By the end of January, with more than two inches of rain, Gila County was out of a drought, according to the Drought Monitor.
It is harder to tell if Payson’s snowfall levels are on par with last year, because January data is missing, Klimowski said.
In 2007, 24 inches of snow fell in Payson and the National Weather Service said 10.5 inches of snow was reported in 2008. With the missing data, the year may have finished similarly with 2007.