Top 10 Driest States in the US [Update 2022]

Did you know that the average annual precipitation of Nevada is only 10 inches, which makes it the driest state in the United States? Now, what makes an area dry?

When the evaporation is greater than the precipitation, the climate lacks moisture and thus low average rainfall.

If you are curious to know the areas in the US that have low average rainfall, here is the list of the driest states in the US.

1. Nevada

Nevada is one of the driest states in the US

According to research, Nevada is a dry state because of its larger elevation range, which means less pressure. Another reason is the highly diverse climate of this driest state.

During summers, the scorching heat will make it difficult for you to continue your daily tasks outside in the morning. Nevada falls in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

So, the mountain blocks the moisture from the Pacific Ocean. For all these factors, Nevada is the driest state in the US. However, you can visit this state to explore the Sierra Nevada mountains and their surroundings.

2. Utah


For some decades, Utah was the third-driest state. However, for the past 3 years, it has been recorded as the second-driest state in the US. The climate of Utah varies from desert to semi-arid, and it has the hottest summer days while being very cold in winters.

The average annual rainfall is 13.6 inches. Due to its geographical location, the state falls in the rain shadow region of the Sierra Nevada, which is why it has the second-lowest precipitation.

Only in April rainfall occurs because of the influence of the Pacific Ocean. Interestingly, Utah is prone to storms because of the monsoon winds flowing through the region.

3. Wyoming


With a semi-arid to continental climate range, Wyoming is the third-driest state on the list. It falls in the mountain region of America, so it experiences greater temperature extremes. It is also the least populated state in the United States.

From late springs to early summers, the state has the most precipitation in the entire year. You can visit the state during this time if you wish to enjoy doing many activities. With the lowest record of 5 to 8 inches of average rainfall, the state is counted as a true desert.

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4. Arizona

Arizona is fourth on the list with a nonuniform climate throughout the region. Due to its vast size and varying elevations, the climate varies. In the lower desert areas, it is mild in winters and extremely hot during summers.

Although it rains during the winters, the rainfall does not cover all the areas routinely. In Arizona, residents have to experience the flash floods that are common during storms.

5. New Mexico

Located in the southwestern part of the US, New Mexico has a diverse climatic range. The state has vast stretches of high plains, desert and mountains.

Even though some parts of the state experience continental and alpine climates, most of the regions of the state experience very little rainfall. The average monthly precipitation is only 1.1 inches and the rainiest month in this state is April.

6. Montana

Montana is America’s sixth-driest state with annual rainfall of 15.2 inches. Droughts are common in Montana due to its location and high temperatures. The weather center updates the residents when there is significant wildland fire potential.

Mostly, the risk is during August when the maximum temperature rises above 95 °F. The last widespread wet weather month for southwestern Montana was recorded in June 2020.

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7. Colorado

In 2020, Colorado came into news for being not only one of the driest states but also one of the warmest states in the US. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded one of the largest and most dramatic wildfires in America last year.

Even if heavy snow falls during the winters, by the end of April, the weather is replaced by warm and dry weather. Unfortunately, this extreme warm and dry weather continues to worsen throughout the year till winter comes.

August is the hottest time in the state and after summer, there is barely any monsoon rain in most of the regions.

8. North Dakota

The moisture transitions for rainfall moves from moist east to semi-arid west of North Dakota. So, the precipitation and humidity also decreases from east to west. For which, in the east, the rainfall is higher than in the west.

With annual average precipitation of around 14 inches to 22 inches, the state records a different weather pattern for its regions.

The main form of precipitation is snow, which falls from November through March. For the past few years, it has snowed in the state during every month except July and August.

9. Idaho

Second-last on the list of the driest states is Idaho because it is situated in the rain shadows of mountains to the west of Washington and Oregano.

Only the areas with higher elevations get more rainfall year round. The areas of the Snake River plateau, the average precipitation is about 10 inches, which is the driest part of Idaho, but the other areas receive more rainfall.

10. South Dakota

With average rainfall of 23 inches, South Dakota is the tenth-driest state in the US. Throughout the 2010s, the people of South Dakota suffered from exceptional droughts.

Nearly one third of the state experienced extremely hot weather. However, by 2020, the climate conditions in the state got better with comparatively more rainfall. The drought conditions are moderate but still the extended period of extreme dry conditions left some areas with abnormal weather.

For the past few years, more moisture has been recorded by the weather forecast department, which means more rainfall than before.

For different reasons, like geographical location, climate change and other significant factors, some states are drier than others. With this list of the driest states in the US, you can figure out whether you would want to move to these cities to live or at least visit them once.

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