Heating up: Local dry, warm weather trend continued in 2013

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br>Mike and Mary Olberding ride along the Willow Lake Trail in Prescott Sept. 23, 2013. The Olberdings moved here from Anchorage, Alaska, and said they were happy to have missed the 4 feet of snow that had recently fallen in their former hometown.

Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier<br>Mike and Mary Olberding ride along the Willow Lake Trail in Prescott Sept. 23, 2013. The Olberdings moved here from Anchorage, Alaska, and said they were happy to have missed the 4 feet of snow that had recently fallen in their former hometown.

Prescott continued a dry, warm trend during 2013, with only 64 percent of its long-term average precipitation.

The total precipitation for the year at the National Weather Service's official Sundog measuring site was 12.04 inches, compared to the city's long-term average of 18.78 inches that dates back to 1898. The site is located at the Sundog wastewater treatment plant on the northeast side of the city.

Prescott had the worst 2013 departure from normal preci-pitation of all the 16 sites listed on the National Weather Service's year-end summary that looks at a 30-year record.

"Generally, it has dried out throughout the American Southwest because of the long-term drought," said Dave Vonderheide of the National Weather Service office in Flagstaff.

The Southwest has been in a drought for about 15 years. Experts also say human-caused climate change is bringing a drier, warmer climate to the Southwest.

January, July and November were the only months last year with above-average precipitation in Prescott. The monsoon was unusually wet throughout much of northern Arizona, according to the National Weather Service's year-end summary, but Sundog was the exception with its sixth-driest monsoon since records began in 1898 at 5.76 inches.

"It was real picky where it wanted to rain," Vonderheide said. "It's almost like it was the luck of the draw."

Twenty-seven of the 28 other northern Arizona measuring sites on the Weather Service's list saw unusually wet monsoons (Castle Hot Springs was the only other exception). The Prescott airport even reported its 15th-wettest monsoon on record with 8.19 inches.

That shows how spotty the monsoon rains can be, since the airport is only about seven miles north of the Sundog site. Generally the more mountainous areas get more rain and snow, but that didn't happen in this case.

Bagdad, Cottonwood, Jerome and Seligman in Yavapai County also were among those recording unusually wet monsoons. But for the year, Bagdad and Seligman had below-average precipitation.

A warming trend continued in Prescott in 2013, especially for the lowest temperatures. The average high temperature of 69.7 degrees was 0.3 degrees higher than the long-term average, while the average low temperature of 39.2 degrees was 1.9 degrees above the long-term average.

Both the high and low monthly temperatures were warmer than average in March, April, May, June and August for Prescott.

The biggest spread between the long-term monthly average temperatures and the 2013 monthly average temperatures in Prescott occurred in May and June - about six degrees.

June produced the Yarnell Hill wildfire that killed 19 of Prescott's Granite Mountain Hotshots on June 30. That was the same day that Prescott got its first monsoon rain, several days earlier than usual. The same cell blew south and turned the Yarnell Hill wildfire into a raging inferno.

Prescott's total snowfall of 7.5 inches in 2013 was only 32 percent of the long-term average of 24 inches.

The Weather Service's year-end report provided some interesting "weather extreme" factoids for the Prescott airport. The hottest day was 104 degrees on June 28, the day lightning sparked the Yarnell Hill wildfire. The coldest day was Jan. 15 at 6 degrees. The wettest day of Sept. 10 brought 1.75 inches of rain. A total of 63 days had precipitation.

Follow the reporter on Twitter @joannadodder.