Looking back on Monsoon 2016

La Niña trumped all, making the Monsoon great again.

Monsoon 2016 Rain Totals for Metro Tucson (Courtesy: Rainlog.org)
Monsoon 2016 Rain Totals for Metro Tucson (Courtesy: Rainlog.org)

As a refresher, my forecast for Monsoon 2016 called for slightly above average rainfall (6.85″ to be exact). While rainfall totals varied across the metro, Tucson International Airport officially registered 7.40″ rain between June 15th and September 30th. That’s good for the 26th wettest Monsoon on record (above the average of 6.08″) & the wettest Monsoon since 2011.

Among the highlights of Monsoon 2016…

  • July was the wettest month at 3.32″ rain.
  • The above stat is remarkable, considering Tucson endured the 3rd longest July dry streak on record. 15 straight days without measurable rain.
  • Wettest day of Monsoon 2016 was September 7th, when remnants from Tropical Storm Newton dumped 1.25″ rain in Tucson.

So what went right in my forecast? I felt that the cooler than normal waters in the eastern Pacific were a greater influence on the Monsoon than high pressure placement. Out of 11 Summer La Niña events, Monsoon 2016 becomes the 10th example for above average rainfall in Tucson. Also helping matters was close proximity to moisture from tropical storms and hurricanes.

Mid June climate model run for September 2016.
Mid June climate model run for September 2016.

Where did my forecast go wrong? I was off by roughly a half inch! And that margin would have been much closer had the Monsoon (and tropics) quieted down like climate models were predicting. Instead of the gradual Monsoon fade after Labor Day, Tucson finished September with 5 straight days of at least a trace of rainfall. That’s never happened in the 121 year weather recording history of the Old Pueblo.

If I had to grade the Monsoon, I’d hand out a solid B for Tucson. It’s been much wetter in the past, but ending with a 1.32″ rainfall surplus is very much welcomed. Chime in with your grade with my Twitter poll question. I’ll have the results Wednesday morning on Tucson Today.


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