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 question...
Does it Rain in Phoenix?
The answer is yes, it rains in Phoenix. In the Phoenix area, the average annual rainfall usually falls between 4 and 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 2000 through 2015 the average monthly rain in Phoenix was:
- January - 0.75 inches of rain
- February - 0.78 inches of rain
- March - 0.75 inches of rain
- April - 0.21 inches of rain
- May - 0.12 inches of rain
- June - 0.04 inches of rain
- July - 0.94 inches of rain
- August - 0.83 inches of rain
- September - 0.60 inches of rain
- October - 0.41 inches of rain
- November - 0.47 inches of rain
- December - 0.64 inches of rain
Phoenix's wettest year since 2000 was 2008 (9.58 inches of rain) and the driest was 2002 (2.82 inches of rain).
Annual Average Rain in Phoenix* from 1971 to 2000: 8.29 inches
Annual Average Rain in Phoenix* from 2000 to 2015: 6.54 inches
*measured at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
Does Phoenix Have a Rainy Season?
Yes, there are times during the year when it is more likely to rain than at other times.
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 wet days that will come to Phoenix about 24 hours after Los Angeles gets a soaking.
It is not unusual for there to be high winds and rain during that time, often resulting in flooded roads and property damage. There are occasional microbursts. In September 2014 we received more than 5 inches of rain in just that one month -- very unusual!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- We rarely have consecutive days of light drizzle. When the rain comes, it usually comes down hard and fast! That's when our washes and low places quickly fill up with water. If a road is flooded, don't assume that you can just drive your vehicle through it. Each year there are too many rescues that must be performed for stranded motorists who tried to drive through raging washes or standing water that was deeper than they thought. If you happen to be one of those people, you could be charged under the Stupid Motorist Law. Yeah, it's real.