TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — July will not soon be forgotten for the incredible monsoon thunderstorms and cooler than average temperatures it brought to southern Arizona. The month will also go into the record books! According to the Tucson National Weather Service, July 2021 will go down as the wettest month ever recorded in Tucson and the wettest July ever recorded! Over 8” of rain fell at the Tucson International Airport and some neighborhoods around the metro area recorded even higher rainfall totals during the month.
Not only did July break records for being the wettest month ever recorded, but it also helped produce the best start to a monsoon on record. From June 15th to July 31st, a total of 8.23” of rain fell at Tucson International Airport. That total produced the wettest start to a monsoon to ever be recorded in Tucson. In fact, it wasn’t even a close competition! Prior to this year, the wettest start to a monsoon only produced 6.80” of rainfall.
All this rain helped erase the large rain deficit that we’ve been carrying all year. Prior to July, we were running over 2” below average for the year. To make matters worse, we had entered 2021 running over 4” below average because of such poor rainfall results for 2020. Not good, but monsoon arrived and changed our fate at lightning speed! As of August 3rd, we’re running close to 4” above average for 2021.
Tucson was not the only location benefiting from such a productive July. Most communities across southern Arizona have received above average rainfall since monsoon began on June 15th . From the lower deserts to the high mountains, communities have collected more rain in their rain gauges than all last monsoon.
One of the best things about having such a productive July is that we’ve been able to see a major improvement in the extreme drought conditions plaguing the western United States. We are a long way from ending the drought, but July’s rainfall has certainly been a big help. Just a few months ago, much of southeastern Arizona was suffering exceptional and extreme drought conditions. Now, coming into August, we have seen those extreme drought conditions all but disappear. However, we still have severe drought conditions and those could quickly escalate back into extreme and exceptional drought conditions if August turns out to be dry.
July also produced some other amazing statistics. Not only was it the wettest calendar month and the wettest July to ever be recorded, but the month also brought us 3 days in which rainfall exceeded 1.25” at the Tucson International Airport. That was a new record for July and tied the all-time record for a calendar month. Another interesting record was set when Tucson recorded back-to-back days with highs in the 70s. This had never happened before, in the month of July, since records have been kept dating back to the late 1800’s.
August has arrived and monsoon is taking a break. We hope it’s just a brief break to re-charge. We could still use a lot more rain to help fill aquifers and reservoirs. Even so, if monsoon was to quit right now, we could still call this year a success. An amazing statement considering how dry our last two years have been and how parched the desert has looked until now. Let’s hope for more rain, but be thankful for what July provided and the beauty it has created throughout our desert.