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Monsoon 2021 storms surpass Arizona winter runoff

Monsoon rains slowing into reservoirs are helping mitigate extreme drought conditions.

PHOENIX — Monsoon storms have come full force this year and because they have brought strong rain to the Valley, reservoir levels are surpassing what they do during winter runoff. 

While it’s a much-needed change with ongoing wildfire risks, it's also helping mitigate our extreme drought conditions.

“It’s just kind of an inflow into that dry riverbed,” said Patty Garcia-Likens, SRP spokeswoman.

Earlier this week, Sky 12 captured a lot of water flowing into the normally dry salt riverbed.

The sight caught the attention of people across the Valley.

“What we’re experiencing right now is the result of a pretty active monsoon season,” Garcia-Likens said.

She explained the significance behind the water flows.

“As you know, since July, we’ve had quite a bit of rainfall,” she said. “Monsoons has been very active, which is much different last year.”

It’s a completely different story from last year when the usual monsoon activity was nearly nonexistent. This week, all the wet weather has had a positive impact on state reservoirs.

“That’s a good thing,” Garcia-Likens said. “We’re able to store that water and we’re able to provide that water to the more than 2 million Valley residents."

SRP provides about half of the water supply to the Valley, so more rain is always a good thing. Earlier this week rain fell below the reservoir levels, so SRP couldn't store all of it.

On Thursday, SRP had to release water from the Granite Reef Diversion Dam into the Salt River in northeast Mesa. All of this stemmed from runoff flowing into the Verde River following Wednesday night’s heavy rains.

“Right now, it’s not posing any challenges,” she said. “I think kayakers are probably going to enjoy it. Sometimes we have road closures. We haven’t had to do that this time.”

Most of the water accumulated in the reservoirs usually comes from snowmelt in the spring, but this year, the monsoon has produced much more this year.

This new rain is helping restore the watershed while lowering the risk for more wildfires to ignite across Arizona.

“Yeah, as you know, we’re in the 26th year of a drought, not just in the Valley, but in the state, and so any amount of rain is welcome,” she said.

To give you an idea of how much more water we’ve received over the last couple of months compared to the rest of the year, as of Thursday, SRP estimated monsoon flows at 125,000 acre-feet this summer, well above the 103,000 acre-feet of water that flowed into the reservoirs between the Jan. 1 and May 31.

Arizona Weather 

Arizona has seen its fair share of severe weather. Here is a compilation of videos from various storms across the Grand Canyon state.

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