Places in the USA With Lowest Precipitation

The list here ranks places in the USA with the lowest precipitation — where rainfall and snowfall amount to less than four inches (102 mm) a year.

The rankings show that just a few states have truly parched deserts: California, Arizona, Nevada and Alaska.

The least rainy portion of the nation takes in a broad swath of southeast California, extending from Death Valley, south to the Mexican border. The most arid area also crosses the state border into Nevada and straddles the Colorado River in the southwest corner of Arizona.

Two deserts occupy this region. The Mojave Desert covers the northern portion, including Death Valley and Las Vegas. To the south, the Sonoran Desert surrounds the Salton Sea and Yuma, Arizona.

Many people live in cities, towns and rural communities scattered across the deserts. Arid cities that make it onto the list of driest places in America include Calexico, El Centro and Yuma. Also among the driest sites are the town of Niland and rural centers of Mecca and Thermal.

Another exceptionally dry part of America stretches across the other end of the country, in the Arctic. At several places along the north coast of Alaska, the snow falls just a few flakes at a time.

Annual precipitation totals for the driest places in the United States
Days Place Inches Milli­metres
17 Death Valley, California 2.36 60
12 Calexico, California 2.59 66
15 Brawley, California 2.78 71
13 El Centro, California 2.85 72
14 Niland, California 2.88 73
17 Imperial, California 2.90 74
11 Mecca, California 3.15 80
17 Thermal, California 3.20 81
18 Yuma Airport, Arizona 3.30 84
10 Indio, California 3.44 87
23 Hawthorne, Nevada 3.66 93
15 Ocotillo, California 3.69 94
15 Blythe, California 3.77 96
62 Ugnu-Kuparuk Airport, Alaska 3.80 97
18 Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona 3.82 97
18 Lake Havasu City, Arizona 3.84 98
Stovepipe Wells, California 3.88 99
16 Trona, California 3.88 99
Desert Center, California 3.92 100

Deserts receive less than 10 inches (250 millimetres) of rain or snow a year, on average. Places that dry occur throughout the western United States in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington.

About the Numbers

The precipitation data given here are long-term historical averages based on the weather from 1981 to 2010. The rankings involve 9,179 weather stations in the United States that collect information for the NOAA's National Climatic Data Center.

The number of days with wet weather only includes the days when precipitation amounts to 0.01 inches (0.25 millimetres) or more.

Driest Years

The lowest amount of precipitation that a US weather station has measured for an entire year is none. It's a rare event. Drought lasting from January to December occurred at:

  • Death Valley, California in 1929, 1953 and 1989
  • Brawley, California in 1953
  • Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Park, Arizona in 2002

National Climatic Data Center. NOAA's 1981-2010 Climate Normals.

Western Regional Climate Center

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