Deer in yard

In this file photo, deer look for birdbath water in the yard of a house on Flagstaff's Cherry Hill. The extended dry spell has pushed more wildlife into neighborhoods on the hunt for food and water.

Deer snack on grass and buds in the yard of a house on Flagstaff's Cherry Hill this month. To avoid turning your yard into a feast for deer, consider planting daffodils, hyacinths and flowering onions. (Courtesy photo)

Courtesy

Easy come, easy go.

That seems to be how the weather year has gone so far in Flagstaff.

January saw a big snowstorm of 36 inches, then a spring dry spell.

The summer monsoon was warm and wet, putting Flagstaff as much as 3 inches ahead of normal precipitation through Labor Day.

But now the skies have dried up while fall warmth approaches records. As we report today, it hasn’t rained in 50 days and the first half of November was the sixth warmest on record. Flagstaff precipitation is now an inch below normal with six weeks left in the calendar year.

For Arizona Snowbowl and its ambitions to stage the earliest-ever opening on Nov. 10, warm and dry is a deflating combination. The ski area won’t be opening this Friday, either, and even with snowmaking Thanksgiving might be a stretch. With luck, however, holiday travelers will enjoy dry roads in the high country.

For deer, raccoons, skunks and other wildlife on the urban fringe, dog water dishes and birdbaths left filled are a tempting excuse to enter neighborhoods. But wild animals need to remain wild, even if it means going thirsty. Do your part and don’t tempt them. Game and Fish is putting out water at tanks in the forest around Flagstaff, and the dry spell to date is nowhere near the 70- to 90-day stretches the city has endured in the past (the record is 99 days).

As for local gardeners, this is the time of year when most lawns and plants normally enter dormancy as the ground freezes and is covered with snow. But neither has happened yet in Flagstaff – a rarity for mid-November – and that means some late-fall watering is in order if the landscaping is going to eventually enter winter healthy enough to survive. Recently planted trees and shrubs in particular could use a good soaking every couple of weeks.

And with the ground still soft, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some Flagstaff families stage a tree-planting ceremony a week from now right after they finish off the Thanksgiving turkey. We could all use some new holiday traditions, and a dry, warm autumn is as good an excuse as any.

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