The 2021 monsoon brought lots of rain, along with some impressive lightning displays, but Cochise County is still feeling the impact of a long-term drought.

SIERRA VISTA — If you’ve been paying attention to the weather, this year’s notable monsoon was a complete change from the few scattered rain showers of last year.

Tucson’s National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeremy Michael said that the active monsoon this summer brought an above-average record of 10.45 inches of rain to Sierra Vista. Typically, the average rainfall for the area is 8.54. Other areas of the state experienced more than usual rainfall for the season as well. Tucson recorded 12.79 inches.

Michael said there is no clear indication as to why we experienced heavier than normal rainfall and greater activity from this year’s monsoon season compared to previous years.

“It was a little bit earlier of a start compared to normal and July was very, very active,” he said. “It was one of the wettest months around for southeastern Arizona.”

Michael said due to increased and prolonged moisture not being pushed down by stronger westerly flow, it allowed for a green-up, which produced additional moisture as a positive-feedback cycle. He also mentioned that the high pressure stayed in a favorable area this year to allow for active thunderstorms.

“Last year the high pressure never really set up, or if it would set up, it would only stay in the four corners for a short amount of time,” Michael said. “That allowed for the area to dry out last year.”

Michael said he expects there to be above-average temperatures and increased chances of below-normal precipitation for this fall and winter seasons.

“That doesn’t mean we can’t get a series of storms and we actually end up above-average,” he said. “The odds are that we’ll have a drier-than-normal November, December and January.”

Also, the forecasting for the rest of the year showcases the drought to be ongoing and could potentially redevelop in certain areas.

According to the North American Drought Monitor (NADM) supplemental website, a robust monsoon brought an end to short-term drought impacts across Arizona and southern Utah, but long-term drought impacts persist.

The United States Drought Monitor shows that 92 percent of Cochise County is currently in the category of D1, moderate drought.

Michael said if we did not have the active monsoon season this past year, the drought would have fallen into the category of “extreme” or “exceptional” and would have been widespread.

“It’ll depend on what happens this winter, but it’s certainly possible that we go in the wrong direction,” he said. “Hopefully we can get a couple of nice storms and snow packs up the mountains.”