Monsoon season has officially kicked off in the southwest US. Although the word “monsoon” may have you thinking rain, the term actually refers to a large scale change in the overall weather pattern allowing an influx of moisture. This can cause a wide array of weather impacts.
Here’s how the pattern sets up. The hot, summer, desert sun sky rockets temperatures in the desert. Warm air has a natural tendency to rise (because it is less dense than the air around it), creating a center of low pressure at the surface. Because nearby large bodies of water do not warm as quickly, their pressure remains higher relative to the thermal low. Eventually, the cooler and more humid air from over water moves toward the hot, dry land. Meteorologist Kate Mantych explains more on what causes the monsoon season and the impacts it brings:
This year’s monsoon season could be influenced by several factors. El Nino has kept the southwest cooler and wetter during the spring. For more information on potential impacts to New Mexico, click here. We spoke with Meteorologist Bianca Hernandez from NWS Phoenix about their outlook through September.
Here’s a look at a handful of cities around the southwest and how much rain fell in the wettest and driest monsoon seasons for those locations. While beneficial for crops and agriculture, the ‘wet’ years can sometimes cause flood concerns.
Many different hazards are possible during monsoon season. John Van Pelt explores the various threats and how you can prepare.