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Daryl Ritchison, WDAY, Published September 29 2012

Weather Talk: ‘Water year’ demonstrates how dry it has really been

Today marks the last day of the year – the water year, that is. The term “water year” is used by climatologists and hydrologists to track the use of water resources over the cycle of utilization.

October is used as the beginning of the water year because across much of the United States, this is the time of year when water inputs begin to exceed loss to evaporation.

Our current dry stretch started toward the end of August 2011, so this past water year demonstrates very well, even by historical standards, how truly dry it has been this year. During the past 12 months, 14.42 inches of rain and melted snow has been recorded at the airport. That ranks as the 11th-lowest total on record and the least amount of precipitation during a water year since the drought in the late 1980s.

The record driest water year was 1935-36, when just 9.77 inches was recorded, and the wettest was two years ago when 32.79 inches fell during the 2009-10 water year.


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