The 2021 monsoon has already delivered more rain than 2020, when the city of Tucson received 1.62 inches. As of July 15, the Tucson Airport had recorded 1.69 inches of rain this year.
Heavy localized rain over the last seven days brought about 1.3 inches to parts of Green Valley and the Santa Cruz Basin, according to the Pima County Regional Flood Control District’s rainfall tracker.
The Santa Rita Mountains saw even more precipitation, with gages near Elephant Head Butte and the Florida Canyon Santa Cruz Basin recording 1.73 and 1.81 inches of rain over the last week, respectively.
Last month, the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for the 2021 monsoon forecasted equal chances for above-normal, normal and below-normal precipitation across much of Arizona.
But right now, Kevin Strongman, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tucson, said we are projected to receive above normal rainfall this year, though things could change.
“It’s still early. Right now, we’re on track, but that could change by August, and it might just drop off,” he said.
“We were figuring this year would be a near-normal monsoon pattern, so definitely a big change from last year which was very much a ‘non-soon,’” Strongman said.
According to the NWS, normal rainfall for the monsoon this time of year hits closer to 1.04 inches.
Last week’s monsoon activity brought heavy thunderstorms, high winds, heavy rain and hail to much of Southwestern Arizona – a pattern that’s expected to continue through much of next week.
Strongman says an increase in atmospheric moisture, brought on from last week’s storms and storms forming in the northern part of the state now, will bring more “rainmakers” this week, comparatively.
“The wind’s shifted, so we’re going to see more storms coming off from the north – the White Mountains and Flagstaff area – and they’ll bring a lot more moisture. Last week’s storms helped bring that up from the Gulf of California, so we definitely have more saturation in the atmosphere,” he said.
With the ground already saturated from prior days’ rain, Strongman also cautioned that washes and low lying areas could flood much easier with the next round of storms.
Though the exact location of thunderstorms will remain nuanced and dependent on the previous day’s activity, daily chances for scattered showers and storms through next week will keep high temperatures below normal, in the upper 80s and low 90s.