Arizona's drought improved in 2022, but Colorado River woes persist

By Katherine Davis-Young
Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2022 - 8:31am

drought improvement 2022
U.S. Drought Monitor
Arizona drought conditions improved in 2022.

The National Drought Mitigation Center reports that, in terms of dry conditions, Arizona will end the year in a little better shape than it started. But long-term water challenges across the West persist.

A year ago, about 9% of the state was in the U.S. Drought Monitor’s “extreme drought” category. Now, no part of Arizona is. Most of the state is now considered just “abnormally dry,” and much of southeastern Arizona is no longer considered to be in a drought at all.

In Phoenix, June, July, August, October and December each saw higher-than-average rainfall, according to the National Weather Service. The Phoenix area is still about an inch short of the annual average, but more rain is expected this week.

This year’s rain means short-term relief for native plants and agriculture. In the long-term though, it won’t do much to improve conditions on the Colorado River, which relies mostly on snowfall in the Rocky Mountains. So Arizona will still face unprecedented cuts to Colorado River water supply in 2023.

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