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2019 Tucson weather in review

Posted at 4:26 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 18:26:42-05

TUCSON, Ariz. — Every year brings its share of beautiful, hot, cold, interesting and sometimes exciting weather to Tucson. 2019 did not disappoint! In fact, we started the year with nearly half-an-inch of fresh snow! That set the stage for what was going to be an interesting year of weather and another challenging year for weather forecasters.

According to the Tucson National Weather Service, 2019 marked the 21st straight year of above average yearly temperatures. Thankfully, 2019 was the first year that did not rank in the top 5 warmest years for the first time since 2011. We have had some warm years recently, but 2019 came in as the 17th warmest year on record.

The overnight lows are showing the largest increase. We can attribute that to the urban heat island effect resulting from an expanding population in and around Tucson. More streets and more buildings equal more trapped heat at night. This trend is likely here to stay as we see further urban expansion.

Heat wasn’t the only highlight of the year. We also had our share of precipitation and chilly weather. February 22nd brought widespread snow to southeastern Arizona and we even recorded 1.9” of snow at the Tucson International Airport. February 2019 turned out to be the 8th snowiest and the 9th wettest February on record!

A relatively warm March and April had many of us thinking we were in for another sizzling hot summer. However, May arrived and so did the rain! The average temperature for the month was 5.7° below average which made May of 2019 the coolest May since 1977. At the airport, we recorded 1.22” of rain which made for the 2nd wettest May on record. The wettest May ever, in Tucson, was back in 1931 when 1.34” of rain fell at the airport.

The cooler than average temperatures carried into the month of June. In fact, June of 2019 was the coolest June since 2009. Even though the cooler weather was welcomed by many folks who dread the summer heat, it likely played a role in subduing our monsoon. We only received a trace of rainfall for the entire month of June. We had a handful of active monsoon days, but most of us didn’t see near the number of thunderstorms as we’re used to seeing during July and August. Monsoon tried to rally in September and did give us six straight days of measurable rain and 2.42” for the month. Even with the late rally, monsoon came up short. At the Tucson International Airport, the monsoon rain total was 5.06” which fell about an inch below the average 6.08” rain total.

As Fall arrived, and we found ourselves back in a dry spell. In October, we only recorded a measly 0.01” of rain. By Halloween, the temperatures fell to put scary chill into the air. The temperature dropped to 32° Halloween morning! That was the 7th earliest 1st freeze of the season and the 1st occurrence in October since 1971! October started out warm but ended by giving many of us goosebumps that weren’t necessarily caused from ghosts and goblins!

With such a dry October, we started to fall behind on our yearly rainfall. November would change that by bringing some much-needed rain back to the desert. At the airport, we received 2.32” of rain for the month. That was 1.75” above the monthly average and made for the 7th wettest November on record. The rain carried into December and we picked-up another 1.20” of rain which was 0.27” above the monthly average. This was a nice gift to receive because it boosted our yearly rain total to 13.62” of rain which put us over 2” above average for the year!

So, once again, Tucson’s weather proved interesting and challenging in 2019. A few dust storms, even the sighting of a couple of weak tornadoes, some snow, some hail and the usual flooding we’ve come to expect with heavy rain. All this variety in weather kept us guessing and stimulated our senses with all the beauty our skies have to offer. 2020 will surely bring more amazing weather moments. Just sit back, stay safe and enjoy the show!