What’s Happening Now – September 2009
Summer ’09 third-driest ever recorded for Arizona
by Shaun McKinnon – September 16, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic
Summer 2009 was the third-driest on record across Arizona, but June, July and August have been much drier here in Phoenix.
The statewide ranking showed up in end-of-summer statistics issued by the National Climatic Data Center.
According to the NCDC, the statewide rainfall total for the three months was 2.17 inches. The long-term average is just shy of 4.5 inches.
Only twice in 115 years have Arizona summers ended drier; surprisingly, one of them was not 2002, which was the driest year on record.
In 1962, the statewide figure was 1.96 inches and in 1900, the summer rains brought just 1.48 inches.
The statewide total for 2002 was 2.51 inches, the sixth-driest summer on record.
Summer rains aren’t big players in the water-supply game; Arizona depends much more on winter snowmelt.
But the lack of rain extended the wildfire season and built the longer-term moisture deficit in the ground.
Drier ground means less runoff into streams and rivers until the deficit is filled.
In Phoenix, the National Weather Service recorded 0.71 inch of rain during June, July and August. That’s less than half the average of 2.02 inches for the period and the 14th-driest in 115 years of record-keeping.
The driest summer in Phoenix was 1924, when 0.23 inch of rain fell. By comparison, summer 2002 – again, the driest 12 months on record – was a gully-washer, with 1.18 inches of rain.