Monsoon Season Arrives In Arizona

I woke this morning to a welcome sight...puffy clouds barely tinged with telltale signs of dark grey dotting the bright blue and endless skies above me.   A signal that the long awaited Monsoon season is arriving and with it, much needed rain to help alleviate the extremely dry conditions that have ignited a wildfire season which will certainly go down in Arizona's history as being one of the worse ever. 

Throughout the day I have watched as the cloud cover has continued to build and with it the signs of rain have multiplied in the ever darkening color of the clouds.  It is that time of year that those of us who live here full time look forward to with great anticipation--the Monsoon season!

Monsoon is an Arabic word that means "season".   Although it is believed that Monsoon is used to describe the arrival of precipitation, it is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation.  Today, the term is used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea.

Monsoon Arrival 2011In a nutshell, when you see the term Monsoon used by the media at this time the year it refers to the rainy phase of a seasonally-changing pattern.  The key word being RAIN, and yes, today there are signs that we may actually have a Monsoon season and soon!

During the summer months in Arizona, the winds shift from west or northwest to a south or southeast direction.  This shift is caused by the combination of the Bermuda high and the intense heat of the desert.  A strong southerly flow  brings in moisture from the Gulfs of California and Mexico.  When the moisture encounters the higher terrain, it is lifted and can form thunderstorms with heavy rainfall, hail and strong gusty winds. 

What it means to the less technical among us (myself included!) is that we will soon have relief from the triple digit heat as the rain cells tend to cool things off.  Unfortunately however, the increased humidity on clear, sunny days can be very hard to handle for those of us who are fans of the dry heat!

Keep an eye out for those incredible double rainbows, unique cloud formations, Monsoon Arrives In Southern Arizonaand astounding storm patterns with a downpour in one area while the suns shines just miles away.  If you have a camera close at hand, you are in for some once in a lifetime photos especially if you can capture the lightning that seems to come from every direction at the same time.  It is truly a sight to behold...the power of Mother Nature during an Arizona Monsoon. 

         JUDI MONDAY, CRS         

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