Phoenix residents woke up to cloudy skies Friday and there was even a hint of rain in the air.
Though a few parts of the Valley did get some sprinkles, it remained just a hint for most of us. The city’s official rain gauge at Sky Harbor Airport has been dry since Aug. 23.
As our current number of dry days reaches the mid-80s (similar to the unseasonably warm temperatures this week), people are wondering how the current streak compares to the record.
We’re not even close.
The record for consecutive days with no measurable rain is 160, which ended on June 7, 1972. There is no rain is in the National Weather Service forecast through Thanksgiving weekend.
While we haven’t approached the record, this is only the second time since records have been kept that the city has been dry for this same period. The only other instance was in 1973.
Ken Waters, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Phoenix, said it was unusual, but not necessarily surprising, to have an extended dry spell at this time of year.
“Around here you have a spectrum where you get these wild records so there will always be a few outliers,” Waters. “Typically, we have at least a little storm activity in October, during the transition season. Maybe some rain at the tail end of the monsoon (in September). But we haven’t had that this year.”
Waters said the jet stream, a kind of river of air currents in the atmosphere that storm tracks often follow, has been farther north lately. So the Pacific Northwest has been getting rain this fall while we’re left dry.
La Niña conditions, characterized by cooler-than-normal waters in the Pacific Ocean along the coast of South America, can influence the position of the jet stream.
“That typically gives you a pattern where the jet stream sets up a little further north, on average, but there is a lot of variability with that, to be honest,” Waters said.
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