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Monsoon 2021 could bring more above-average temps but also more rainfall

Reduced snowpack across the West could promote faster warming to our north which is what we want to happen to get our monsoon pattern together.

ARIZONA, USA — Monsoon 2020 was the driest and hottest monsoon on record for the Southwest.

For 2021, reduced snowpack across the West could promote faster warming to our north which is what we want to happen to get our monsoon pattern together. 

Here's what researchers are expecting for this year's monsoon:

2021 will see more rain

The expectation is for higher rain totals in Arizona than what was recorded last year.

Christopher Castro, a Professor and Associate Head of the Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona, has been studying our monsoon for 20 years. He says researchers are more concerned about changes in extreme bouts of precipitation in Arizona's monsoon, rather than overall rainfall.

"Those really big monsoon rainfall events, what we find is that due to increases in temperature and atmospheric moisture, those types of events are becoming perhaps less frequent," he said. 

"Certainly more intense so this means heavier rain when the rain comes, and heavier wind leading to greater intensity of dust storms."

Will this summer be as hot as the last?

It would be quite the feat to break as many temperature records as we did in 2020.

However, above-average temperatures are predicted once again for the summer of 2021.

The overall temperature trend during the state's monsoon has been upward, with last year coming in as the record hottest year ever recorded, both in Phoenix and the southwest at large.

What can you do to help Arizona's warming climate?  

Matei Georgescu is an Arizona State University Associate Professor of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and Senior Sustainability Scientist of the Global Institute of Sustainability. 

He says we can't create change alone when it comes to Arizona's climate. Change on that scale can be broken down into three tiers: your family, your neighborhood, and your city.

"Start in your home. For example, go for LED lights instead," he said. "Get involved in your neighborhood, maybe start a community garden. And finally, get connected with your government and work cooperatively on long-term goals that focus on environmental awareness, reduce waste to benefit our economy and enhance access to cope with climate change." 

You can read more about his team's research here.

Arizona Weather

Arizona has seen its fair share of severe weather. See a compilation of videos from various storms across the Grand Canyon state on our 12 News YouTube playlist here.