Drought danger diminished, but Havasu not out of the woods

March 26, 2019

With rainfall totals already beyond the yearly averages for Lake Havasu City, there is cautious optimism for the remainder of the year in terms of drought restrictions.

The Las Vegas office of the National Weather Service said the area is out of immediate drought danger, and despite heading into the driest time of year, the outlook is good.

According to NWS Meteorologist Kate Gillette, heat and rainfall during the next three months appear to be comparable to 30-year averages.

“There aren’t any strong indications that heat or rain will be abnormal for April, May and June,” Gillette said. “It’s good that the heat isn’t expected to be above average. I wouldn’t expect any water restrictions to be ordered, but that is up to local officials.”

Doyle Wilson, Lake Havasu City’s Water Resources Coordinator, said while the El Nino effect has provided more rain than normal, he does not believe the drought is over.

“Definitely not!” Wilson said. “We’ve had a spike in rainfall so far this year, but let’s see what happens the rest of the year.”

The April through June timeframe is historically the driest in the area with an average of just one-tenth of an inch falling in those three months during the 30-year period from 1981-2010.

The period from July-September, also known as monsoon season, has provided an average of 0.84 inches of rain over the last 30 years.

According to the National Weather Service, the rainfall total in the Havasu region is at 3.84 inches.

In a previous story, Alex Boothe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Las Vegas office, said the National Weather Service’s drought map shows Lake Havasu City is no longer listed as being in a drought area. “Since the beginning of March, the percentage of severe to moderate drought dropped to about 50 percent land coverage for Mohave County,” he said. “Havasu was in a D3 to D4 drought, which is extreme drought, but it’s been completely eradicated due to this above-normal precipitation in a short amount of time.”

He cautioned that the area could easily slip back into drought conditions if dry weather resumes.

Since Oct. 1, Havasu has had 4.8 inches of rain. For the entire 2017 water calendar year, which runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, the area had 1.26 inches

Gillette did say that for the week of March 30 through April 5, the National Weather Service was predicting above normal temperatures and precipitation.

Wilson pointed out that the Colorado River, the source of the city’s water supply, is dependent on the snowpack in the Rocky and Wasatch mountains.

“While it never hurts to get rain, the snowpack guides the amount of water and though it has been good, it hasn’t been extraordinary, so we really need to see how things develop,” Wilson said. “2018 was not a good year and we could end up right back depending on the conditions.

“The bottom line is we always want to conserve water because it’s hard to know what the future will bring,” Wilson added.

Scott Shindledecker can be reached at 928-453-4237 or sshindledecker@havasunews.com.