What is the Sedona Weather Like in Winter?
The topic of weather in Sedona comes up often. It is hard to believe that we are starting a New Year and the Winter of 2021! As for the weather in the month of December, we were able to enjoy our Christmas weather. There was even a snow flurry right after Christmas which gave us hope we would get some holiday snow. However, that was not to be. Usually, by the beginning of December, all the leaves of our Japanese Maple have fallen. During this season, there are still leaves on that tree! The tree may be dormant but the leaves are not brown, they are red, so the tree looks like it is not dormant. It is a very strange year indeed! Find out –> Why didn’t my tree lose its leaves?
Exceptional Drought Conditions
There are 5 designations for drought, not counting “none”! Severe is the middle designation moving to extreme and then exceptional. Most of Arizona is in an exceptional drought. Sedona is definitely in an exceptional drought. Again, that is the highest rating for drought conditions. We had only 0.04 inches of rain in December bringing our total rainfall up to 8.15 inches for the year. This is the lowest total by 5.5 inches since recording this measurement in 2010. To make the point, last year we had almost 3 times that amount of rain at 23.47 inches. Our precipitation does vary based on climate conditions in the Pacific Ocean. El Niño and La Niña affect our weather patterns dramatically. Currently, there is a La Niña weather pattern that shifts weather patterns to the north. This means that Arizona and the Verde Valley (Sedona) will see the probability of a warmer and drier winter season. Learn more about these weather conditions on this page from the University of Arizona files.
Is There A Water Shortage In Sedona?
If you live or want to move to the Sedona area, being in an area that is in an Exceptional Drought may be cause for concern. However, Sedona sits in a pretty unique area of the state of Arizona. Only .3% of the surface area of Arizona is ground surface water. Because Sedona sits on the banks of Oak Creek, a tributary of the Verde River, it is a magnet for visitors as well as locals to enjoy year-round. Hundreds of thousands visit this area, especially during the warm summer months. A couple of examples are “Slide Rock State Park” and “Red Rock Crossing” Besides the Colorado River, Oak Creek and the Verde River are part of the last remaining perennial river systems in Arizona. The Verde River flows for over 150 miles through the state and Oak Creek flows into the Verde River. It is also a perennial water source. It is said that Oak Creek, at the headwaters, contains some of the purest water in the world.
In the 20 years that I have been coming to Sedona and owning property here for 17 years, Sedona has never had a water issue. Sedona was in a pretty bad drought in 2003 and there was no need to ration water. However, the groundwater table was low and affected the tree and plant growth. Vegetation did suffer. So far, this drought has not had a major effect on the trees leaving me to believe that good precipitation in the spring and 2019 had a positive effect on the water table.
Sedona sits at the edge of the Colorado Plateau. The Colorado Plateau has a large aquifer that touches 4 states. This is where Sedona gets our water and why we have not had the same issues as southern Arizona has had. It takes about 800 to 1400 years for an artesian spring to form. The Oak Creek Canyon Natural Artesian Spring provides us with this very pure water. Learn more at Green Living “All Water is Not Created Equal”... According to the article, we have been getting water from this source since the 1800s.
The video below, “Loved to Death: The Story of Oak Creek” gives us some important information and discusses the challenges this eco-system faces because of the number of visitors that recreate in and around it.
76% to 80% of Days You Will Be Able To Enjoy Sunshine
The weather in Sedona is pleasant all year long. The image above was shot on New Year’s Eve morning, the last day of 2020. The mornings were much colder than last year. We had 8 more days of early morning temps below freezing. We also had 1 day in the 70ºs. There have not been any 70º temps in the last 4 years.
Previous Years Charts are located at Sedona-Weather.com for comparison
Final Numbers By Category
The Davis Weather Station captures all the statistics in the charts that you see above and below except for “Days with Sunshine”. This is a subjective number based on the ability to see, feel the rays, and enjoy the sunshine. Many outlets determine what percentage of clouds are in the sky and then decide whether that is a day of sunshine or not. Rick looks at the cloud cover and how long it lasts. For example, if the sky is full of fluffy white cumulus clouds that continually pass overhead but the sun is up, and you can feel the warmth of the sun’s rays and we see a sunrise or sunset, he considers this a day of sunshine. Generally, overcast skies for the better part of the day is a cloudy day and does not count. Based on that, there are 301 days of sunshine in 2020. Most of our days are sunny.
I would also note that even though we may have 78 days that start out at below 32º, we didn’t have one day below freezing. This means that any snow or ice that might develop evaporates or melts away because the temperature does not remain below freezing. Notice that there were no days with a high below 40º as well. There have been a total of 3 days with a high below freezing in the past 10 years.
Another area in the chart above that affects the Comfort Index in Sedona (see below) is the number of days at 50º or above. If the weather is above 50º, I consider that sweater weather. Days in the 60ºs and 70ºs which most people truly enjoy are 30% of the days that are most comfortable. For people who live in Arizona, days in the 80ºs are also considered great weather. This brings the number up to 42% of the total days. Throw in the days above 50º and you are looking at more than half the year that is comfortable weather. We had an extremely warm period of weather over 90º. Normally, the number of days over 90º is anywhere from 90 days to 113 days. This year the days ended up at 137 or 37% of a year! That is 6 days shy of a month, more than the norm. Fortunately, days in the 90ºs are usually not a problem especially if you are not outside for a length of time. I personally would not go on a hike if the temperature is above 90º.
The Real Story
The real story is the lack of rain all year. November was no exception with 0.06 inches of rain. The yearly total so far is 8.11 inches. The lowest year on record is 5.55 inches higher than that total. Unless December has a big month of rain, this will be the lowest yearly total rainfall in Soldiers Pass, West Sedona measured at the Cottages at Coffeepot. We are definitely in a drought.
Rain and Snow Totals – FINAL 2020
Sedona Temperature Chart Totals – FINAL 2020 – High-Low- Mean Temperatures
How Is the Weather Comfort Index Determined?
According to BestPlaces – “Being neither too hot nor too cold or humid nor dry plays a large part in enjoying where you live, so we came up with the BestPlaces Comfort Index. This calculation system factors in components such as afternoon summer temperature and humidity to determine the places in the U.S. that are the most comfortable.”
That Sedona comfort index number is 8 out of 10.
…”It’s A Dry Heat”
I lived in Houston Texas during my childhood and worked for national companies in Florida. During the many vacations visiting relatives in Omaha Nebraska and Chicago Illinois during summer, I remember how uncomfortable I felt with the humid conditions. Humidity also affects you in the winter months making a person feel colder because of the water vapor in the air. We have all heard the expression about the desert heat – “It does not feel that hot because it is a dry heat!”
Why Is Sedona At An 8.0 Comfort Index?
Some of the reasons Sedona has a very high Comfort Index is that the overall temperature and humidity levels make living everyday life a pleasant experience. Summer, winter temperatures and humidity are not extreme. Sedona-Weather.com has all the stats from 2010 to today. Humidity is not added to the stats because it is in the comfort zone. It should be noted that humidity changes as the temperature changes during the day. In Sedona, it remains in the comfort zone as the temperature changes. Arizona has an overall Comfort Index of 7.5. Hawaii has an overall Comfort Index of 8.7 and California has an overall index of 8.4. Having spent a lot of time in all three states, I feel that majority of the population lives close to the ocean. An ocean breeze can make all the difference with one’s comfort level.
Enchantment Resort During Late Fall – Early Winter
Enchantment In Late Winter – Early Spring
Cathedral Rock – Summer – Red Rock Crossing Area of Oak Creek – A Place for Recreation
West Fork – Oak Creek Canyon – Fall
If you need more information about Sedona weather or activities please call me.
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