Why rain totals are tracked at Tucson International Airport

Rain gauge totals for monsoon
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 8:28 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucson’s airport is one of the dryer locations in southern Arizona this monsoon, while many other areas are well over their monsoon averages.

Despite a wet monsoon in several parts of Tucson, Tucson International Airport is where the records are kept for monsoon.

The FAA uses the TUS rain gauge and other technology at the airport every day to monitor weather conditions for planes coming in and out of here.

According to the National Weather Service, they’ve been measuring rain at TUS since 1948. The rain gauge became automated in 1995. Historically, our monsoons are measured at the airport.

John Glueck, senior meteorologist at NWS, said despite rainfall in other places, the only rainfall that gets counted at the end of the year is at TUS.

He said monsoon is so sporadic, and having the gauge in one specific place every year evens out the measurements.

“The closer to the mountain you’re going to be, the mountain range, the higher precipitation you’re going to get during monsoon. Last year the airport had a very wet year, the third wettest and other parts of town didn’t have that much rain. It’s just the hit-and-miss part of storms. And that’s just the nature of it,” Glueck said.

Every month, NWS records rain totals across the region and our First Alert Weather Team always makes a point to report those as well.

Sometimes the airport represents all of that rain we’ve seen, and sometimes, like this year, it does not.

For now, Glueck said we’ll have to wait and see.

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