How has Monsoon changed over the years? Or has it?

Posted at 4:01 PM, Jun 09, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "It would rain for two, three weeks straight, I mean it was solid. A lot. And we just don't seem to be getting that. It's disappointing," longtime Tucsonan Alex Rodriguez said.

Rodriquez explains how he remembers Monsoon from years ago. He tells me one of the reasons he and his family moved to a new house with a view of the city and mountains, was so they could watch Monsoon storms roll in.

But, as he explains, that has yet to happen.

"I'm telling you we've been here three and a half years and we've got maybe one or two storms in the time we've been here, and it's been a complete disappointment," he said.

Jenn DuBois, who has lived in Tucson since 1994, agrees with Rodriquez. She tells me it just hasn't been the same from when she was young.


"Raging rivers. Like all the time, the Rillito was full and you couldn't even cross it in some parts of the city," she said. "I remember basically from the day school got out until almost when school would begin it was like one to two a week, and I longed for those cooler moments when it was like 110 and all of sudden it's like oh it's 95, this feels great."

So has Monsoon really changed? Let's do the math.

If we look at the latest climate data from 1991 through 2020, which replaces the old norms from 1981 through 2010, it shows the wetter and cooler 80s were clearly replaced by the warmer and drier decades, leading to our new norms. If you combine that information with the average annual totals, you'll see there is no doubt we have been warmer and drier.

In a nutshell -- the average annual temp has warmed just over a degree while the average annual rain totals have decreased by nearly an inch.

If you take just the Monsoon -- which is June 15 through the end of September -- it too has been drier by nearly 4-tenths of an inch.

But why? Many would love to speculate that answer, but your guess is as good as mine. Although it may seem like it used to rain every day like clockwork, there is actually no data that proves that.

Most likely that idea comes from folks who remember one or two very active monsoons from when they were younger, and they believe it to be consistent for a longer period of time, based on that memory.

Regardless of how or why it's changed, DuBois hopes her kids will soon get to witness what a true Monsoon storm looks like.

"I'm waiting for that monsoon because I want them to see it," she said.