Expect more hot, dry weather

For over three decades Cottonwood residents have come to expect an average of 1.25 inches from April to June.

This year they've received less than a quarter of an inch.

Forecasters say it looks like sunny skies are becoming the long-term prediction, but hang on to your hats, wind advisories are also predicted.

And just when monsoon meant relief in July, dry lightning may also become part of this year's summer weather package during the weeks when storm clouds arrive in southern Arizona.

Mike Campbell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, confirms what residents already know. "We've got a whole 'nother month of real extreme fire danger," he said.

El Niño is soon becoming a term that rolls off the tongue easily.

And it may be just the thing to wet Northern Arizona's whistle, say NOAA scientists.

Early this month, the agency announced that ocean surface temperatures increased 2 degrees above average throughout most of the equatorial Pacific in May.

But there's no need to get out your umbrellas just yet.

According to Mike Staudenmaier of the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, the ocean's warming is slow to impact the atmosphere and its results are only felt during the winter.

Cottonwood isn't the only area with an empty rain gauge.

Since 1897, Jerome has averaged 2.07 inches of precipitation for the months of April, May and June. This year it received just .18 inches and in 2001 it registered a modest 1.31 inches.

For more than six decades in Camp Verde, rainfall totals for the three months have equaled 1.37 inches. This year, no measurement was needed, no precipitation has been recorded since March.

Some weather experts contend the drought will continue through 2015 – it gets worse. Others argue it may not end until 2025.

Another good reason to keep your eyes on the weather maps in the equatorial Pacific.

This week's forecast is no surprise: Sunny and clear with high temperatures ranging from 100 to 110 degrees.

Reporter Joanna Dodder contributed to this story


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