It's Still Fall in Arizona's Sabino Canyon, and That's Bad News

Associated Press
Published: January 12, 2018

This April 24, 2015, photo shows flowers blooming amid tall saguaro cactus and a mountain backdrop in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area not far from downtown Tucson, Arizona.
(AP Photo/Beth J. Harpaz)

It's January but you wouldn't know it if you paid a visit to a popular recreational area in Arizona.

Fall colors are lingering in Sabino Canyon, which has experts concerned.

Naturalist David Lazaroff said the colors are “pleasant to the eye but troubling to the soul,” and are a result of climate change, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Prolonged drought conditions have left the canyon near Tucson bone dry for an unusually long period of time.

U.S. Geological Survey Research Hydrologist Chris Magirl said there has not been any flow in Sabino Creek since Sept. 14.

(MORE: Trump Administration Removed or Buried 'Climate Change' From Websites, Report Says)

That means the waterway has been without flowing water for 113 days as of Friday.

Magirl said stream-flow records indicate this is the fifth-longest no-flow period on Sabino Creek since measurements began in 1932, with the other four occurring in recent decades. The longest period of continuous dry days was 165, ending in March 2006.

Magirl said it will take about an inch or more of rainfall, or snowmelt from the nearby Catalina Mountains, to get the creek flowing again.

The long-term outlook for the creek and vegetation in the canyon remains uncertain.

“No one can predict everything that’s coming,” Lazaroff said.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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