Climatology 101: Stormy start to 2017

January 2017 goes down as the 33rd warmest on record, netting an average temperature of 52.9° at Tucson International Airport. Of note, 5 morning freezes were registered at TIA. This is the most seen in January since 2013. Officially, 1.18″ rain fell in Tucson last month. This mark is good for the 36th wettest January recorded.


According to NWS Tucson, the new year started off wet and cold as a winter storm moved across the area on New Year’s Eve & Day. Rainfall amounts across the metro area on the 1st mostly ranged from 0.10″ to 0.40″ with localized spots up to 0.50″.

Cooler than normal conditions continued through the 3rd before high pressure aloft brought much warmer temperatures to the area. This warmth peaked on the 8th when the Tucson International airport recorded the first 80º+ high of 2017. The historical average date for the first 80º+ high of the year is February 11th. The 81º high on the 8th was one degree off the daily record high (82º in 2002) and also one degree off the nations high temperature which occurred in San Pasqual Valley, CA.

Above normal high temperatures continued through the 14th before a Pacific storm, moving across northern Mexico, brought valley rain, isolated thunderstorms, gusty winds and high elevation snow to the area late on the 14th into the 15th. Rainfall amounts from this storm ranged from 0.40″ to 1″ with localized areas up to 1.25″, especially near the Catalina and Rincon mountains. Runoff caused some localized flooding problems. Around 6″ of snow was recorded up at Mt. Lemmon.

This storm was the beginning of a very active weather pattern which would last through the 24th.

A series of winter storms would move through the area between the 20th and 24th bringing widespread valley rain, gusty winds, a few thunderstorms and mountain snow. A strong cold front moved across the metro area during the morning hours of the 21st bringing wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph along with the precipitation. Snow was very heavy in the mountains with Mt. Lemmon recording up to two feet. Rainfall amounts were mostly in the 0.25″ to 1″ range with locally higher amounts in the mountains below the snow level.

The last in this series of winter storms moved through the area on the 23rd and 24th. Rainfall amounts across the metro area were less with this storm, mostly in the 0.05″ to 0.50 range. Mt. Lemmon recorded up to 6″ of new snow.

The last winter storm of the month left much colder air across the area which resulted in an extended period of below freezing low temperatures across the metro area from the 25th through the 29th. High temperatures remained cool before high pressure aloft brought much warmer daytime temperatures to close out the month.


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