updated 6/3/2005 11:29:43 AM ET 2005-06-03T15:29:43

An unusually wet winter has led to the easing of the drought across much of the Southwest, officials said Thursday.

With runoff from heavy snow feeding reservoirs, conditions in most of the region have been upgraded from drought to abnormally dry, officials said.

“We had this great winter, with lots of snow and rain,” said Michael Hayes, climate impacts specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s National Drought Mitigation Center. “All of the Southwest has recovered significantly from the drought conditions. Parts of the Southwest have recovered completely.”

Tom Pagano, a water supply forecaster with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Portland, Ore., warned that dry years will occur again.

“Many dry years are a norm in the desert, and years like this are definitely an anomaly,” he said, noting that regional snowfall has been limited since 1992.

Hayes added that if the summer monsoons don’t adequately drench the area, it could mean trouble.

More rain is needed to fill regional reservoirs. Water levels remains below capacity at Lake Powell, Lake Mead and at most reservoirs in New Mexico.

Varying degrees of drought continue elsewhere in the West and Southwest, including in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico.

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