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Does it Rain in Phoenix, AZ?

Annual Rainfall Statistics and Tips on Driving in the Rain


©Judy Hedding

Most people understand that Phoenix, Arizona is located in the desert. The Sonoran Desert, to be precise. Deserts are very dry, so it begs the questions, is there rain in Phoenix?

The answer is yes, it rains in Phoenix. The Sonoran Desert is actually one of the wettest deserts in the world, with two "rainy" seasons. From December to March the rains follow California patterns, and we can often predict our wet days that will come to Phoenix about 24 hours after Los Angeles gets a soaking. From July to mid-September we experience monsoon thunderstorms. In the Phoenix area, the average annual rainfall is about 8 inches per year. That isn't much compared to other major cities in the U.S. For instance, Los Angeles gets about twice as much rain as Phoenix does and Seattle gets about four times as much rain. Still, Phoenix gets more rain than Las Vegas, which averages only about 4.5 inches per year.

From 1981 to 2010 the average monthly rain in Phoenix was:

  • January - 0.91 inches of rain
  • February - 0.92 inches of rain
  • March - 0.98 inches of rain
  • April - 0.27 inches of rain
  • May - 0.11 inches of rain
  • June - 0.02 inches of rain
  • July - 1.05 inches of rain
  • August - 1.00 inches of rain
  • September - 0.64 inches of rain
  • October - 0.58 inches of rain
  • November - 0.65 inches of rain
  • December - 0.88 inches of rain
Annual Average Rain in Phoenix from 1971 to 2000: 8.29 inches
Annual Average Rain in Phoenix from 1981 to 2010: 8.01 inches
(measured at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport)


Driving in Phoenix Rain

Because it doesn't rain very often in the Phoenix area, there are two things to remember about driving in Phoenix rain.

  1. Windshield wipers dry out. They are made of rubber, and when we go weeks or months at a time without rain, they may crack and break when you need them most. The rubber parts of the windshield wipers are easy to replace. Local auto parts stores carry a supply, but those stores are jammed and may run out when the rain in Phoenix finally comes. I make sure that my windshield wipers are still in good condition and ready to help me with visibility during Phoenix rain showers by periodically using the windshield washer. In that way I can tell if they have separated, cracked or are otherwise in need of replacement.
  2. The roads can develop a buildup of dirt and oils that may become very slick when that rain finally arrives. Leave extra room between your car and the car in front of you, in case you need to make a sudden stop. Make sure you know how to handle your vehicle if you get caught in a skid or hydroplaning situation by reading the vehicle's manual.

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