Much of U.S. Southwest left parched after monsoon season

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Cactus flanks the banks of the Rio Grande as boaters in the distance navigate the shallow river as it flows through Rio Rancho, New Mexico, on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020. New Mexico and other southwestern states have been dealing with dry conditions and warmer temperatures this summer. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Cities across the U.S. Southwest recorded their driest monsoon season on record this year, some with only a trace or no rain.

The seasonal weather pattern that runs from mid-June and ended Wednesday brings high hopes for rain and cloud coverage to cool down places like Las Vegas and Phoenix. But like last year, it largely was a dud, leaving the region parched.

Flagstaff notched its driest season ever, down more than 6.5 inches (16.5 cm) of rain from its normal of 8.31 inches (21.1 cm ). Las Vegas tied a record set in 1944 with the least amount of rain — just a trace. Las Vegas also shattered a record set in 1959 for consecutive days with no measurable rainfall. It stood at 164 days on Thursday.

Phoenix didn't have its driest monsoon season, but the city had its hottest one ever, with the average temperature recorded at 96 degrees Fahrenheit (35.6 celsius), 1 degree above the record set in 2011, according to the National Weather Service. Phoenix also was moving toward a record for most days at 100 degrees (37.8 celsius) or higher for the year. So far, it's at 132.

Yuma near the Arizona-California border had no rain. In New Mexico, Farmington and Roswell had one of their driest monsoon seasons on record. Albuquerque had less than half the normal amount of rain.

Residents around the Southwest bemoaned what seemed like a never-ending summer. The heat and scarce rain mean people spend more time indoors, hiking trails are dusty, the risk for wildfires increases, reservoirs are less full and thirsty wildlife go in search of water.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department and volunteers have been filling about 1,000 water catchments around the state to help the animals.

“This is really helping our wildlife get through this ‘nonsoon,’ " said Amy Burnett, an Arizona Game and Fish Department spokeswoman.