KINGMAN - Kingman-area residents experienced a warmer and drier than normal year in 2006.
"Most of the year was marked by La Nina, which tends to force storms away from Arizona," said Randy Cerveny, professor of geography at Arizona State University. "Ocean surface temperatures cooled in the eastern Pacific, and that forces storms more northward, so they hit Oregon and Washington instead of California and Arizona."
Data supplied by the ASU Office of Climatology indicates Kingman received 5.49 inches of rain for the first 11 months of the year. December rainfall has been just .03 inches through Wednesday afternoon, according to The Weather Channel.
That 5.52-inch amount is about half of the normal January through December precipitation of 10.47 inches for Kingman. October, with 1.07 inches (vs. the normal total of .76), September with 1.3 inches (vs. the normal of .73) and July with 1.66 inches (vs. the usual amount of 1.08), were wetter-than-normal months but could not offset the drought that hampered the area in other months.
"Part of what must be considered is precipitation coming from thunderstorms during the summer monsoon that can hit or miss," said Stan Czyzyk, a staff meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas. "Some locations, like Hualapai Peak, had several storms producing in excess of five inches of rain, and that's well above normal. However, in general, rainfall has been slightly below normal across the whole Southwest."
The mean average minimum temperature for the first 11 months this year was 49.45 degrees, compared with a normal figure of 48.5.
The mean average maximum temperature was 79 degrees, whereas the normal figure is 74.5.
Cities throughout the Southwest had temperatures "skewered" this year by what Czyzyk terms the "heat island effect."
"Cities, especially in urban areas, are getting hotter due to the heat island effect," Cerveny said.
"Roads are paved with asphalt, and more buildings going up absorb heat and stay warmer than outlying areas. Downtown Kingman is probably 1-2 degrees warmer than its outskirts on any given day."
A change appears to be coming this winter due to the El Nino phenomenon taking hold in the eastern Pacific. Surface temperatures rise 1-2 degrees, resulting in storms holding a more southerly track and hitting California and Arizona, Cerveny said. Czycyk and Cerveny both said Kingman likely would get above normal precipitation and near normal temperatures over the next 90 days.