Western Nevada undergoing worst drought on record

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Tuesday, July 03, 2001

Copyright Las Vegas Review-Journal

Western Nevada undergoing worst drought on record Driest year in 130 years of record-keeping.

By TOM GARDNER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

RENO -- Western Nevada's drought deepened as Reno sweltered through its fourth warmest June on record and ended the driest 12-month period in 130 years of record-keeping.

While temperatures in Southern Nevada averaged 3.1 degrees above normal, the region's rainfall was above normal to date.

"Northwest Nevada is suffering through a drought with an unprecedented dry spell," Climatologist John James said Monday.

"After four consecutive wet years, 1993-97, a turn to the dry side has brought three dry years in a row punctuated by the extremely dry 2000-2001," he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Al Cox said the past 12 months were the driest in Northern Nevada since rain records began in 1871, with just 2.8 inches of precipitation. The previous record was 3.15 inches in 1882-83. Reno's normal annual precipitation is 7.53 inches.

The 0.9 of an inch received in a couple of quick showers June 25-26 left Reno 0.37 of an inch below normal for the month.

Last month's 69.9 degrees was the fourth warmest June since temperature records began in 1888, 4.8 degrees above normal, James said. The warmest average June temperature on record is 71 degrees, set a year ago and in 1918.

Reno topped out at a record 100 on June 21.

With paper-dry wildland conditions, fire officials are warning that a careless July 4 firecracker could explode into another disaster like the Martis fire, which was contained late Sunday after scorching 14,500 acres.

"It's a tinderbox out there and we're very concerned we can be faced with another major fire in the next several days," incident commander Pat Murphy said at the fire scene near Reno.

In the southern part of the state, Las Vegas averaged 87.8 degrees, 3.1 degrees above normal, and saw just a trace of rain in a normally dry month in which 0.12 of an inch is typical. Still, its 3.3 inches since the first of the year is 1.3 inches above normal.

James said Reno and Las Vegas were typical of warm, dry conditions that prevailed throughout the state in June.

Elko averaged 64.1 degrees, 1.7 degrees above average, with just 0.03 of an inch of rain -- 0.88 of an inch below average and 1.91 inches behind year-to-date total averages. Its readings of 93 on June 1 and 21 tied records for those dates. The high during the month was 97 on June 22 and the low was a chilly 27 degrees on June 4.

Ely's trace of rain tied it for the second driest June since records began in 1899 and left it with just 2.66 inches for the first six months of the year, less than half of normal. Its average temperature of 62.3 was 2.7 degrees above normal.

Ely set records on June 1 with 90, three degrees above the 1986 mark, and 95 on Saturday, a degree warmer than the 1994 high for that date. It also plunged to 24 on June 4, setting a record that had stood since temperatures dipped to 27 in 1950. It tied a record for June 12 at 28.

Winnemucca also was unusually dry with 0.03 of an inch of rain, leaving it 0.83 of an inch behind for the month. Its 2.4 inches so far in 2001 is barely half its average of 4.64 inches.

Its high of 101 on June 21 was tempered by a record low 23 on June 4, five degrees off the previous record set in 1962. The 101 was a record by 2 degrees over the 1988 high. The 94 on the first day of the month also was a record by a degree over 1992's mark.

This story is located at: http://www.lvrj.com/lvrj_home/2001/Jul-03-Tue-2001/news/16457423.html

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 03, 2001


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