Monsoon season brings welcome rain, flooding concerns to Southwest
It looks like the monsoon is here to stay, at least through mid-July anyway
Monsoonal moisture in place throughout the Southwest is forecast to trigger additional showers and thunderstorms across Arizona on Wednesday.
The main hazards will be heavy rain, lightning and gusty winds, the National Weather Service in Flagstaff, Arizona said.
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The coverage of showers and thunderstorms will diminish closer to the Fourth of July holiday weekend onward though some locations along U.S. Highway 89 and Interstate 17 corridors will still see afternoon activity.
Even though much of this region could use the rainfall, downpours in these areas can quickly turn dangerous and lead to flash floods. So far, no flood watches have been issued, but the NWS is warning about the potential for flooding threats across much of Arizona on Wednesday.
Once again, areas near burn scars will be most at risk of impacts from scattered downpours as torrential rainfall is expected.
The NWS said an approaching system moving into the central Rockies by Thursday and Friday will help funnel moisture northeastward into Colorado and eventually the central Plains.
Portions of the Southwest have a heightened chance for above-normal precipitation through July 22, especially across Southwest New Mexico, the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center said.
Albuquerque has recorded its sixth-wettest June on record with 2.38 inches this year.
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Monsoon season in the Southwest
The Southwest monsoon season begins June 15 and lasts through Sept. 30 each year.
Monsoon is a term given when winds blow tropical air toward typically desert locations, and Arizona and the Desert Southwest certainly qualify.
According to the NWS, a ridge of high pressure in Mexico blocks any moisture from reaching the Desert Southwest in early June, allowing for days of hot, dry weather. Later in June and into July, the ridge drifts north into the Four Corners region of the U.S., allowing some tropical moisture to be carried northward from the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean.
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Combine the desert heat with the copious amounts of tropical moisture, and you have a setup ripe for strong thunderstorms with torrential rain. What's more, northern Arizona is home to the Mogollon Rim, an area of high elevation that can provide the additional lift needed to trigger the development of thunderstorms that will often drift into the Phoenix area.
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