Waiting for Monsoon Rain – Where to Track the Season

With triple digit temperatures here in Tucson, it’s officially time to start waiting, watching, yearning, and hoping for monsoon rains! Sky Island Alliance staff are known to run out of the office into the rain as soon as storms break overhead, and I find myself longing for the smell of rain-soaked creosote bushes as I write this blog.  

According to the National Weather Service, the monsoon season officially began on June 15th. This means that it‘s officially the time of year to watch the weather forecast for the tell-tale signs of low atmospheric pressure and monsoon storms heading our way. When the Southwest temperatures climb with the onset of summer, the temperature difference between the land and Pacific Ocean increases—creating the low pressure that causes winds to blow refreshing storms northward from Mexico.  

Half of the rainfall in our region comes during the monsoon season. These summer storms bring vital water that catalyzes a second flower bloom in the Sky Islands and much needed relief from the heat. Interestingly, predicting how much rain will come in the season ahead is tricky business. Fortunately, here in Tucson we have a fabulous team of researchers at the University of Arizona sharing timely updates on all things climate-related in the southwest. 

Check out all the amazing resources CLIMAS—Climate Assessment for the Southwest—offers including an overview of monsoon climate, a monsoon tracker, and great podcast series. The National Weather Service also has a great monsoon tracking and statistics.

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