Weather and Climate

Despite its notoriety as a dusty and dry place, Arizona possesses an exceptional diversity in landscapes and vegetation. Topographic features create steep gradients in temperature and precipitation that support ecological community types from mixed conifer at high elevations to desert scrub at lowest elevations. Two 'wet' seasons can bring precipitation in torrential downpours (summer monsoon) or light showers (winter storms) with major implications on how and where water important to plants is stored in the soil. Longer-term cycles in Pacific Ocean temperatures can impact storm tracks across Arizona, bringing multi-year wet periods and long-term droughts. Major changes in the global climate system have been observed in recent decades that have directly impacted Arizona’s complex climate.

Many resources exist online to track changes in weather and climate across Arizona as well as training modules and reports to catch up on the latest climate science relevant to the region.

Weather and Climate Resources (including videos)

  • Arizona Climate Training Module (Arizona Master Watershed Program): Learn about how global circulation patterns regulate the weather and climate of Arizona and explore how patterns in temperature and precipitation have changed over time.
  • DroughtView : DroughtView is a web-based tool to access and visualize both near-real time and historical remote sensing drought and climate monitoring data. The backbone of this tool is the ability to access several remotely sensed vegetation greenness indices that can indicate drought stress, changes in phenology and drought related impacts like burned areas from recent and past wildfires. DroughtView also brings in complementary climate data like precipitation and drought indices to aid in the interpretation of vegetation indices (coming soon). A tool to report and log drought impacts is also under development.
  • Climate Assessment for the Southwest: CLIMAS is a research and outreach program at the University of Arizona focused on conducting applied research and providing regional climate information to users in Arizona and New Mexico. CLIMAS produces a monthly report called the Southwest Climate Outlook that details regional climate conditions and discusses upcoming forecasts. The Outlook is available by clicking on the ‘Library’ link.
  • Climate Change Impacts in the US (2009): This report produced by the U.S. Global Change Research Program represents the most authoritative and detailed synthesis of climate science research for the U.S. This webpage has links to regional highlights including the southwest U.S.
  • Climate Science Synthesis and Assessment Products (2004-2009): This series of 21 reports produced by the 13 U.S. Global Change Research Program agencies represents a synthesis of climate science research to support resource managers and decision makers. Some reports focus on sectoral impacts including agriculture and range management.
  • National Weather Service: Main website for the National Weather Service, the definitive and official source for weather forecasts and local weather information in the United States. Click on the map to be directed to your local forecast office webpage.
  • Rainlog:  Rainlog is a community, collaborative rainfall monitoring network comprised of volunteers across Arizona. Over 2000 observers contribute rainfall observations to Rainlog each day, helping to fill in gaps in official precipitation monitoring networks across Arizona. Consider signing up and sharing rainfall observations from your gauge.
  • Southwest Climate Change Assessment Report (2014): The Southwest Assessment Report as part of the National Climate Assessment is a detailed summary of the most recent science on the climate of the region and its effects on the people and landscapes of the Southwest.
  • Southwest Climate Change Network: The Southwest Climate Change Network is designed to foster dialog and exchange of reliable science and policy information among climate experts and other scientists, natural resource managers, policy- and decision-makers, and the general public about climate-change issues in the Southwest. Its goal is to improve our region’s understanding of climate change and help people figure out ways to respond and adapt to it. Check out the Southwest Climate Blog on the site to keep apprised of recent climate research of relevance to Arizona and the broader Southwest.
  • The Arizona Meteorological Network: AZMET is a near-real time network of weather stations at 28 location across Arizona. This network is focused on collecting and providing weather information of relevance to agricultural operations including potential evapotranspiration estimates and crop irrigation guidance. Click on ‘Data Access’ to see a map of locations and data reports.
  • U.S Drought Portal: Web portal for the National Integrated Drought Information System, an interagency effort to provide drought planning and monitoring information. Numerous drought monitoring indices are available by clicking on the ‘Current Drought’ link. Check out the ‘Planning’ link to access tools and planning guidance documents to prepare for drought conditions.
  • USDA Southwest Climate Hub: Regional effort coordinated through USDA agencies across the Southwest to assist farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in coping with the impacts of climate variability and change.