El Nino to follow dry winter in Williams?
Last week brought to an end one the driest meteorological winters on record in (Williams), but some fresh hope for dry climes was released on Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued an El Nino watch, forecasting a likely return of the phenomenon later this year.
In (Williams), moderate and weak El Nino years have historically made little difference. So it’s no guarantee of wet weather, but a strong El Nino could help make up for the dry winter.
The National Weather Service office in Bellemont, AZ said that (Williams) received just 19.3 inches of snowfall — the equivalent of 1.95 inches of precipitation — between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28. That’s the period meteorologists refer to as winter.
“It was defined that way because the coldest temperatures are centered on those three months,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Justin Johndrow. “By the end of astronomical winter in later March, it’s already getting pretty warm.”
February continued the pattern that persisted all of this dry winter, with temperatures much warmer than average and less than a half-inch of precipitation, also well below normal. Only 10 (Williams) meteorological winters have been drier in the last 116 years.
And it was hotter this year, too. The Weather Service said this winter is the 12th warmest on record for (Williams). The average temperature (the highs vs. the lows) was above freezing through the winter at 33.2 degrees.
(Williams’) driest winter ever was 2005-06, which saw just 0.33 inches of precipitation.
The summer of 2006 saw the Forest Service close the national forest around (Williams), as the persistent drought raised wildfire fears. And the fires still broke out, with the Warm, Woody and Brins fires hitting area forests hard. Firefighters were able to stop the Brins fire before it could devastate Oak Creek Canyon.
Eric Betz - AZ Daily Sun reporter