Lake Havasu City is in the midst of its second longest drought on record.
It has been six months since Havasu has seen any measurable rain — 185 days to be exact. According to the National Weather Service Las Vegas Office, the city’s last wetting came on April 13 with .07 inches recorded. That’s a long time to go without any measurable rainfall but Havasu is still about four months away from a record.
Kate Guillet, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Las Vegas Office said the Havasu area went 301 days without measurable rain starting in mid-1995 through February of 1996. Guillet noted that there were several days during the record setting run when traces of rain were reported but it didn’t reach the .01 threshold to be measured.
As a result of the dry spell Havasu is currently in severe drought. Guillet said that is fairly representative of the region as a whole, though she noted areas of Northwest Arizona and Southern Nevada are in extreme drought, which is a step higher than Havasu.
“Pretty much the entire region is in an extended dry period and the outlook for the winter isn’t looking like it will bring us back up to where we should be,” Guillet said. “That doesn’t mean that it won’t rain, but as of right now we are forecasting below average precipitation for the winter.”
Guillet said a La Nina advisory has been issued for this winter which, in Havasu, generally means above average temperatures and below average rainfall.
Even with much of the region in drought, the Lower Colorado River is still under normal operating conditions in 2020 and will be again in 2021. Bureau of Reclamation Public Affairs Officer Patti Aaron said that determination is made once a year each August, and goes into effect in January of the following year.
“We are in our 21st year of drought, so we aren’t really seeing anything different than what we have been seeing,” Aaron said. “We have the drought contingency plans in place and those are working. Arizona, Nevada and Mexico are all contributing water savings to Lake Mead, which has helped to keep the level up.”
The drought contingency plan was signed into law in 2019 and went into effect this year. Under the plan, Arizona has agreed to surrender 7 percent of its annual allotment of Colorado River water and Nevada is giving up about 3 percent of its share.
Aaron said Lake Mead was at 1,083 feet above mean sea level on Thursday, and water levels are expected to stay in roughly the same range they have been for the last two or three years. She said without much precipitation, the water levels in Lake Mead rely on annual water releases from Lake Powell. She said currently the Bureau of Reclamation is expecting 8.23 million acre feet of water from Lake Powell this year, but that could end up being as high as 9 million acre feet.