This white paper analyzes Tucson’s economy and extreme weather. The study compares the story in Tucson with that of other Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) across the Western United States, finding that Tucson has a strong economy, with major sectors including government, trade, professional services, and construction.
However, Tucson also suffers large losses from extreme weather. Thunderstorms and flooding dominate Tucson’s extreme weather losses, accounting for an average of 84 percent of all extreme weather events and 96 percent of all property losses. Extreme weather losses across Tucson and surrounding Pima County average $9,449,667 per year (real 2009 $USD) in direct reported property damages, including wildfire damage.
Tucson is also an outlier in the frequency of events. At 47 events per year, Tucson averages the highest yearly extreme storm count across major MSAs in the Western United States. Weather events can be disruptive to Tucson’s economic activity, with flash flooding creating hazards for transportation, heat extremes impacting outdoor worker productivity, and hail destroying crops.
However, Tucson’s weather also provides opportunities for economic activity, including a vibrant winter tourism economy and growing solar industry across Southern Arizona.