Southern Arizona Weather: Looking back to 2021 and looking forward to 2022

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Posted at 10:35 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-08 16:56:34-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Over the last year, southern Arizona weather has provided us with quite a broad spectrum of conditions varying from drought to record heat to record rainfall. Welcome to the Sonoran Desert where you’re bound to see just about every kind of weather you can think of if you just stay long enough.

According to the Tucson National Weather Service, 2021 was our 5th warmest year on record and the first year since 1995 that the Tucson International Airport did not record a temperature below 30°. We did record 63 days of 100° or higher heat (the average is 68 days) and 8 of those days brought highs over 110°! At least we didn’t experience as many 100° days in 2021 as we did in 2020 when we set a new record of 108 days with scorching 100°+ heat!

January brought 0.73” of rain and March brought 0.31” to the airport. Other than that, we struggled to find any rain in the rain gauge for the first part of the year. In fact, in February, not one drop of rain fell at the airport and we only received a trace in April and May. This lack of moisture made our drought conditions escalate into severe and extreme categories throughout the state of Arizona.

Fortunately, summer brought us the 3rd wettest monsoon since record keeping began back in 1894. 12.79” of rain fell at the airport which fell just over an inch behind the all-time record of 13.84” in 1964. Within this productive monsoon, we experienced our wettest July ever and it also ranked as the wettest calendar month ever recorded with just over 8” of rainfall. All of this rain certainly helped ease our drought, but we still need more rain to erase the drought.

Now, we look to 2022 to see what type of weather it may bring. We hope for more rain and mountain snow along with another productive monsoon! However, we may struggle to find any significant moisture through the remainder of the winter and through this spring. The reason is because we are experiencing a weak La Niña that is expected to carry into spring.

During a La Niña, southern Arizona typically experiences lower than average precipitation and higher than average temperatures. This is a weak La Niña, so impacts may not be as great which would be a good thing for us. Still, the Climate Prediction Center outlook is calling for the typical drier, warmer scenario as we work our way closer to spring.

Even though we can’t tell exactly what kind of weather 2022 will bring to southern Arizona, we hope to keep the extremes to a minimum and land somewhere in the middle. One thing is for sure, the desert always provides us with interesting weather and beautiful skyscapes!