ARIZONA HAS AN area of 113,998 sq. mi. (295,252 sq. km.), with inland water comprising 364 sq. mi. (942.8 sq. km.). The state's average elevation is 4,100 ft. (1,250 m.) above sea level, with a range in elevation from 70 ft. (21 m.) above sea level on the Colorado River to 12,633 ft. (3,850 m.) on Humphrey's Peak. The state has a variety of elevation regions, with the high plateau in the northeast with elevations of 5,000-7,000 ft. (1,524-2,134 m.), a mountainous region running in a diagonal from the southeast to the northwest ranges from 9,000 to 12,000 ft. (2,7433,656 m.), and in the southwest the land is primarily made up of desert interspersed with low mountains.
The climate is dependent on the elevation, with warm summers and mild winters, except in the high plateau, which has cool summers and cold winters. The air is generally dry and clear with a relatively low humidity (August humidity in Phoenix is 38 percent, Flagstaff 55 percent, Winslow 46 percent, and Yuma 33 percent) and much sun. Precipitation is governed by elevation and seasons.
Average annual precipitation on the high plateau is approximately 10 in. (.25 m.) Summer rain early July to mid-September comes from moisture-bearing wind from the southeast source in the Gulf of Mexico. Air masses from the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California, which release moisture while rising over the southeastern mountains.
Flood conditions are infrequent, mostly flash flooding from thunderstorms in July and August. Air currents from November through March are strongly from the Pacific in the high mountains; cold air masses come from Canada in the central and northern parts of state bringing heavy snow accumulations (sometimes reaching 100 in. or more). The highest temperature recorded in the state was 128 degrees F (53.3 degrees C), in Lake Havasu City on June 29, 1994, and the lowest temperature recorded in the state was minus 40 degrees F (minus 40 degrees C), in Hawley Lake on January 7, 1971. Annual lake evaporation is 80 in. in the southwest and 50 in. in the northeast corner.
The warm climate allows Arizona to produce vegetables for winter supply, and crops such as wheat and corn. Mining for copper, coal, sand, and gravel are important to the economy. A 1992 Colorado River Compact required 8.23 million acre ft. of water to be released every year to Nevada, California, and Mexico. In 2002, the crisis between farmers who own most of the water rights to the Colorado River and California cities downriver occurred.
The federal government ruled that California had to stick with the water allotment provided for in the compact and had to divide it equitably. The federal government further stipulated that water provided for in the compact was only excess water. Coal-powered steam, nuclear power, and some hydroelectric plants provide electricity. The Glen Canyon Dam generates hydroelectric power and created Lake Powell.
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