Tuesday, July 17, 2012
The Southwest Arizona Monsoon Project (SWAMP) in 1990 and 1993 established the fact that a true monsoon, characterized by large-scale wind and rainfall shifts in the summer, develops over much of Mexico and the intermountain region of the U.S. In 2004 the North American Monsoon Experiment (NAME) conducted in northwest Mexico and the southwest U.S sought to better describe the monsoon in North America, and increase our ability to predict it on a daily, weekly and seasonal basis. NAME showed that the weather pattern in the southwestern U.S.during the summer is not only a true monsoon, but it also affects the weather over a large portion of North America.
While the monsoon brings beneficial rain to the normally parched southwestern U.S., it also produces a variety of weather hazards including intense heat, enhanced wildfire risk, flash flooding, severe thunderstorms with damaging winds and hail, lightning, and dust storms.
The North American Monsoon is a busy time for CoCoRaHS observers in Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Texas. After weeks if not months of reporting zeroes they are finally able to measure something other than dust and bugs in the gauge. Check out the Daily Comments on the CoCoRaHS web site to get the observers' perspectives on the North American Monsoon.
You can learn much more about the North American Monsoon at two web sites in particular. The National Weather Service office in Tuscon, AZ has assembled an excellent series of web pages on the Monsoon in Southeastern Arizona and was the source for much of the information in this post. There is also a web site dedicated to monsoon safety and preparedness, monsoonsafety.org.