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Year in Review: 2020 was memorable year for Las Vegas area weather

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Posted at 1:40 PM, Dec 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-31 16:50:39-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Las Vegas had a memorable year of weather in 2020. We endured a historic stretch of dry weather for much of the year, as well as one of the warmest years in our 83 years of weather records.


Let's start with the rain, or lack thereof, in 2020.

Between April 21 and December 16, a stretch of 240 days, there was no measurable rain (0.01" or more) at McCarran. This shattered the old record of 150 dry days, set back in 1959.

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There were only 18 days with measurable rain all year, for a total of 2.35" of precipitation in 2020, which is just 56% of our annual average of 4.19". Talk about a big contrast from the 6.87" we picked up in 2019.

For context, the wettest year in Las Vegas was 1941 when we picked up 10.72" across 52 days of measurable precipitation (consequently, 1941 is also our coldest year on record).

The driest year Las Vegas has seen since 1937 (when records began) was 0.56" in 1953, so it has been worse in the past.


Due to the lack of monsoon humidity, clouds, and downpours this summer, the heat dominated the forecast. Triple-digit heat occurred at McCarran at least once a month between May and October.

There were a total of 97 days at or above 100° this year, which is just behind 1947's record of 100 days at or above 100°, and far beyond the 1981-2010 average of 70 days at or above 100°.

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The hottest temperature measured at McCarran this year was 114°, which happened once in August and once in September.

While we're at it, the coldest temperature recorded this year was 31° in February. The average temperature this year was 71.5°, good for the fifth hottest year on record (records go back to 1937).

It's interesting to note that the ten hottest years in our weather history have occurred since 2003.


What do we expect as the calendar flips to January of 2021?

A La Nina pattern of cooler than average ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean usually means temperatures that are a bit above-average and precipitation that's decidedly below-average here in Las Vegas.

While it only takes one storm system to deliver a heavy rain event to the Desert Southwest, the overall impression for the first couple months of the new year will be for dry conditions to prevail.