Green Valley Park Fall

Fall has lingered in Rim Country, with above average temperatures and almost no rainfall. Clouds this week seemed to promise a shift to a more normal storm pattern, but passed by without bringing rain. The National Weather Service says La Niña conditions in the eastern Pacific will likely produce a warm, dry winter in the Southwest, but snowfall in the Rockies and Northwest as storm tracks shift north.

All those clouds hovering over Rim Country don’t mean rain — they’re just teasing us.

Those clouds might dump something elsewhere, though. A disturbance in the atmosphere out on the Arizona-New Mexico border might bring some snow above 9,000 feet before the week ends.

After that, temperatures will return to slightly above normal with no rain in sight, according to the National Weather Service.

Not a surprise with La Niña conditions driving winter weather.

La Niña means little girl in Spanish. The term defines colder water temperatures across the east to central equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Those colder ocean temperatures translate to warmer, drier conditions in the Southwest for the winter.

In comparison, El Niño (little boy in Spanish) conditions mean warmer Pacific Ocean temperatures. El Niño conditions generally bring cooler temperatures and lots of precipitation to the Southwest.

The La Niña and El Niño cycles typically last from nine to 12 months, but either condition can last for years.

The NWS reports the frequency of the conditions oscillate between two to seven years.

These colder ocean temperatures cause more snow in the northern parts of the country, while warming up and drying out the south.

This year, the Rockies, Northeast, Northwest and mid-Atlantic states will see much colder weather and more snow than normal.

Weather experts tell skiers to head to the Rockies or the East Coast for a good season.

The NWS predicts the Northern Plains to have colder temperatures, but less snow.

All along the southern corridor, however, winter temperatures will be warmer and conditions drier.

As for the danger of fires as a result of the warmer, drier conditions, the National Interagency Fire Center reports “normal significant fire potential” for the Southwest between November and February.

After February, however, eastern New Mexico will see above normal fire potential.

As for drought, the National Weather Service predicts the mild winter will cause southern Arizona to develop a drought, while the southwest corner of Arizona will continue to have drought.

Currently, Roosevelt Lake holds 57 percent of its capacity as of the second week in November. The whole Salt River Project is at 48 percent of its capacity.

The East Verde River has a high flow despite the lack of rain, however. Could be SRP’s release of 3 percent of the C.C. Cragin Reservoir’s capacity in the last week.

contact the reporter at: mnelson@payson.com

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