monsoon (copy)

Backed up drainage at the corner of Avenida Escuela and Quail Run Drive provides large puddles for vehicles and pedestrians to navigate through during monsoon rains in Sierra Vista.

COCHISE COUNTY — This year’s active monsoon has been welcome after coming off one of the driest seasons on record last year, but the storms have not come without some dangers as well.

“For Tucson, total rainfall has been 11.86 (inches) for Tucson International Airport as of yesterday (Aug. 19),” said Lance Tripoli, meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Tucson office. “It’s a good season. We have not seen one like this for a while.”

In comparison to last year’s “non-soon,” Tripoli said the rain total has increased nearly tenfold for the Tucson area.

“Last year, we had 1.62 inches of rain for the monsoons last year,” said Tripoli. “You can add about 10 inches to last year’s rainfall.”

For Cochise County, Sierra Vista has seen just more than nine inches of rain this year in comparison to only 3.1 inches last year, according to the University of Arizona’s Monsoon Season Station Climate Summaries for the area.

Willcox has seen nearly double the rain from last year with a total of 5.8 inches. Tombstone, San Simon and McNeal have had similar patterns with totals of 8.8, 6.1 and 5.5 inches, respectively.

The difference is striking. Tripoli said this is the third wettest monsoon season the Tucson area has seen.

In the Sky Islands, {span}isolated mountain ranges in southeastern Arizona and northern Mexico, {/span}Tripoli said that some areas have had close to a foot of rain.

The difference in moisture is the positioning of high pressure.

“This year, the high (pressure) is centered over our east, which brings up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico,” said Tripoli. “We’re going to roll back to a favorable pattern for thunderstorms in Southeastern AZ for the weekend and next week.”

The increase in moisture is good news for reducing the severity of drought conditions, as Tripoli said conditions have improved in the western end of Cochise County.

“Cochise County has (gone from) exceptional to moderate (drought conditions),” said Tripoli.

However, increases in rain means increases in flooding.

About a month ago, Jean Schmechel was swept away by a wash on Ocotillo Road in Cascabel and survived by grabbing hold of brush along the road for 12 hours before being found by Cochise County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team the following day.

The issue isn’t exclusive to Cochise County, as other areas in the state have experienced severe flooding.

On Friday, Gov. Doug Ducey traveled to Gila Bend to view flood damage in the area and meet with Gila Bend Fire Chief Arelia Henry and local legislators.

According to the governor’s Aug. 20 press release, Gila Bend saw “historic” flood damage the weekend of Aug. 13, which resulted in two casualties.

In 24 hours, Gila Bend saw 1.5 inches (4 centimeters) of rain according to the Associated Press, and Mayor Chris Riggs declared a state of emergency on Aug. 14.

Tripoli said risk of flooding is due to the oversaturation of the soil.

“There is a period of time when the water soaks it in, but with each new batch of rain, the water runs off easier,” said Tripoli.

As the monsoon season approaches its end on Sept. 30, Tripoli said the community can expect to see some more moisture in the coming week.

“We’ll see storm chances return more robustly in Southeastern AZ over the weekend moving the following workweek,” said Tripoli.