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Monsoon Doesn’t Mean Rain

Monsoon season is here in the desert southwest and it might come as a surprise that the term monsoon doesn’t actually mean rain.  The true definition of a monsoon is a seasonal change in winds.  This change in wind pattern just so happens to bring moisture to this region of the country.

The reason we see this change in wind direction is due to high pressure over the Central Plains.  Clockwise winds associated with a high pressure system helps to pull moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into the Desert Southwest.  Extreme heating over the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico help to develop what is known as a thermal low.  The air around the thermal low is buoyant.  With buoyant air and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, we have the perfect ingredients for afternoon thunderstorms to develop.

These monsoon conditions usually set up from early July and last through late August.  The threats include: flash flooding from heavy rains, the possibilities of the development of haboobs, which are a type of dust storm that form from outflow winds created by thunderstorms, and dangerous lighting.

Although these threats exist, the monsoon is an essential part of reaching the Desert Southwest’s annual rainfall totals.

For WeatherNation – Josh Cozart

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