Monsoon 2021 close to a record-breaking season

July was Tucson’s wettest month on record
It brought powerful storms and impressive amounts of rainfall.
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 6:04 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Monsoon 2021 is coming to an end this week. The season was a record-breaker, with July being Tucson’s wettest month on record.

After seeing hardly any rain in 2020, this year’s monsoon came in full force. It brought powerful storms and impressive amounts of rainfall.

“The tap opened wide in July, closed down a tiny bit in August but overall, the third wettest monsoon season in over 100 years of records,” Gregg Garfin, a climatologist at the University of Arizona.

The rain has brought the desert alive and transformed the landscape.

“It really caused a massive green up here in the Sonoran Desert with flourishing wildlife, insects and birds,” said Christopher Castro, a hydrologist at the University of Arizona.

Tucson received more than a foot of rain this summer, but climate change experts say we’re still in a long-term drought. Eventually, the greenery will dry up and be a potential threat to wildfires.

“We’ve got to keep our fingers crossed that we get just enough so that we can hang on to some of the benefits of the great monsoon moisture we got and so that we don’t end up with a severe fire season next spring,” Garfin said.

Climatologists aren’t expecting southern Arizona to see much rain this winter as we enter a La Nina weather pattern.

“In many ways really linked to both the precipitation we get in the wintertime which is also important for recharging our desert soils but also higher temperatures,” said Jessica Tierney, a climate change expert at the University of Arizona.

She says climate change is known to cause extreme rainfall events and likely played into the strong monsoon we just experienced. Tucson saw 12.78 inches of rain this monsoon, according to the National Weather Service.

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