By John Simpson

The December and full year 2021 climate report by John Simpson. December 2021 was quite warm and ended up being the 3rd warmest December in Tucson since the 1880s. The 85-degree high at the Tucson airport on December 1st was tied for the warmest day of any December day in Tucson weather recorded history. In fact, the first third of the month was quite warm, but cooler and wetter weather eventually moved in for the remainder of the month.

For the full year, 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record. The four warmer years than 2021 have all occurred since 2014. For December 2021 rainfall, I recorded 1.34” of rain in central Del Lago, which is very near my 11-year average of 1.37.” The Tucson airport also recorded 1.34,” which is above its 30-year average of 0.96.” Much of Arizona was average to above average for rainfall for the month. The Vail area seemed to be more on the average to drier side with lower 0.75-1.0” rain amounts falling in the eastern parts of vail and higher 1.5-1.7” amounts falling on the western parts of Vail in Rita and Mesquite Ranch. Much of Tucson recorded 1.5 to 3.0 inches of rain, with the higher amounts falling in the Rincon and Catalina Foothills. The Phoenix area recorded well above average rainfall with 2-3” rain amounts throughout the entire metro area. Rainfall for the 2021 calendar year was great, due to the exceptional rainfall recorded during the monsoon season. I recorded an incredible 22.45” of rain, which is my highest since I have been keeping records the past 11 years, and is far ahead of my second wettest year, 2015, when I recorded 17.31.” The Tucson airport recorded 15.19” for the year, which is its 14th wettest year since the 1890s. It is interesting to note that I recorded about 50% more rain than the Tucson airport in 2021.

Vail typically gets more rain that the airport, but not by that margin. The table below shows the monthly rainfall recorded in 2021 at both my place and the airport for comparison.

Due to continued La Nina conditions, the Climate Prediction Center is still forecasting generally above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall for winter. They got the warmer than average temperatures right for December, but not the rainfall part as discussed above. So far, at the time of this writing on January 15th, temperatures have been generally above average and precipitation below average. The only rainfall was recorded on the first day of the year. For next months article, I will discuss January 2022 and any insight on the remainder of winter and spring.

John Simpson has lived in southern Arizona the past 33 years and Vail for 17 of those years. John has a bachelor’s degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Missouri and a mster’s degree in Atmospheric Physics from the University of Arizona. He loves exploring the outdoors with his family and photographing weather and the beauty of southern Arizona.

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