Driest Cities in the United States

Least Amount of Rain

Many major cities in the western United States have dry climates. Las Vegas and Phoenix, get so little rain or snow, less than 10 inches (250 millimetres) a year on average, that they're considered deserts. Riverside and San Diego also cross under the desert threshold with averages of just over nine inches of annual rainfall.

Las Vegas and Phoenix normally have less than an inch (25 mm) of rain in every month. For many of the driest cities, usually no rain lands during two or three months of the year. At cities in central and southern California, the little rain they do get lands mainly during spring, fall and winter. They typically receive at most one-tenth of an inch of rainfall throughout July and August.

Large American cities with less than 20 inches (508 mm) on average of rain and snow a year
City Annual Precipitation
Inches Milli­metres
Las Vegas, Nevada 4.2 106
Phoenix, Arizona 7.2 183
Riverside, California 9.4 239
San Diego, California 9.8 249
Tucson, Arizona 10.6 269
Fresno, California 11.0 279
San Jose, California 13.5 342
Los Angeles, California 14.3 362
Denver, Colorado 15.4 390
Salt Lake City, Utah 15.5 394
Honolulu, Hawaii 16.4 417
Sacramento, California 19.2 488

These precipitation totals are averages based on weather data collected from 1991 to 2020 for the US National Centers for Environmental Information. You can also view precipitation information for all the major cities.

The major cities included in the weather rankings represent the 56 metropolitan areas in the United States with the biggest populations, all those with over one million people in 2020, according to the US Census Bureau. A complete list of America's 56 largest urban centers is available here.

Many smaller cities also have exceptionally dry weather. Yuma, Arizona with only 3.3 inches (84 mm) of rain a year, ranks among the driest places to live in the USA. Other mid-sized cities averaging less than ten inches of precipitation a year include Reno Nevada, St George Utah, El Paso Texas, Albuquerque New Mexico, and Yakima Washington.

Most Dry Days

In America's driest cities, at least 8 out of 10 days have at most a light shower, if any, precipitation. Nine large cities have over 300 dry days a year. Las Vegas, the least rainy of all, usually never sees more than four damp days a month.

Cities that average over 300 days annually with less than 0.01 inches (0.25 millimetres) of rain
City Dry Days a Year
Las Vegas, Nevada 339
Phoenix, Arizona 332
Los Angeles, California 331
Riverside, California 330
San Diego, California 325
Fresno, California 319
Tucson, Arizona 318
San Jose, California 306
Sacramento, California 304

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI). Climate Normals.

Western Regional Climate Center

Back to Top