TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Monsoon 2021 has been one to remember and it’s not over yet. Not only has it produced Tucson’s wettest month on record in July, but it has also helped keep us much cooler than last summer.
First, let’s get up to date on where we are as far as rainfall. Most communities across southern Arizona have experienced better than average rainfall since the beginning of monsoon with Tucson running way ahead of average.
In Tucson, as of this writing, we have received 11.86” of rain. This ranks as the 3rd wettest monsoon ever recorded and puts us in a legitimate position to take over the top spot before monsoon officially ends September 30th. Even if we don’t move into first place, it’s amazing to note that this is only the fourth time since records began in 1895 that we’ve exceeded 11” of rain during monsoon.
All of this rain has given our annual precipitation total a tremendous boost! We entered 2021 nearly 7.5” below average. We had only received a little over an inch of rain before monsoon began on June 15th. Since then, we’ve erased the deficit and now find ourselves nearly 6.5” above average for the year.
This has helped erase some of the exceptional drought conditions across southern Arizona, but we still have a long way to go. While much of southern Arizona has now returned to moderate drought conditions, portions of western and northern Arizona are still suffering from extreme to exceptional drought.
Just one year ago, we struggled through our 2nd driest monsoon ever recorded. The year before wasn’t too impressive either, so 2021 has been quite a pleasant surprise despite some of the flooding that has occurred.
Not only have we enjoyed lots of rain over the past six weeks, we’ve also enjoyed cooler than average temperatures. As 2020 brought us a “nonsoon” monsoon, it also brought our hottest summer to ever be recorded in Tucson. The way this summer started, it had many of us thinking we might be in for another sizzling stretch!
June was running hotter than last year and our drought was getting worse by the day. July arrived and monsoon finally brought the rain that we had desperately been waiting for since last year. With the arrival of the cooling rain, our temperatures dropped and provided us welcome relief from the heat.
2020 also set the record for the most 100°+ days ever recorded in Tucson. We saw the mercury climb above 100° on 108 days in 2020 that left some folks wondering if they even wanted to live in the desert anymore. This year, we’ve only had 46 days of 100°+ heat and we may not even make it to the average of 68 days.
We still have plenty of hot weather heading our way, but monsoon also has time to bring more rain and possibly break the record for the wettest monsoon ever to be recorded in Tucson. Only time will tell if the heat wins out or if monsoon can mount a comeback and defeat the heat for the remainder of the summer. No matter what happens, it will be fun to watch through the end of September.