Aug 14, 2023 - Climate

Why the East Valley gets more rain than central Phoenix

Rainfall totals from Aug. 8. Photo: Flood District of Maricopa County

It's been 144 days since the National Weather Service recorded rainfall at Sky Harbor — making this the second-longest rainless streak on record.

Yes, but: Those of us who live on the east side have gotten a small taste of that sweet desert rain this summer.

What's happening: NWS meteorologist Alex Young tells us the storms that hit the East Valley originated in the higher terrain areas of southern and eastern Arizona and then moved into the Valley.

  • The storms got weaker over time and petered out before making it to central or west Phoenix.

What they're saying: "We just simply haven't had the amount of moisture we need for [rain] to become a reality across the entire Valley," Young says.

What we're watching: The other type of storm we see during the monsoon originates as tropical storms off the coast of Mexico. When these make it to the Valley, we typically see widespread and longer-lasting storms, Young says.

  • NWS is eyeing a potential tropical system development late next week that could blanket the entire Valley in rain by next weekend.

1 fun fact: The latest NWS has ever recorded precipitation at Sky Harbor during a Valley monsoon season was in 1995 — on Aug. 14.

Some hope: The Valley went on to record 3.5 inches that August, Young says.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that central Phoenix is in the midst of its second-longest rainless streak on record, not the fourth-longest.


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