Monsoon expected to pack more punch this year - East Valley Tribune: News

Monsoon expected to pack more punch this year

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Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2008 12:21 pm | Updated: 10:22 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The coming monsoon will pack stronger, more frequent thunderstorms in the state, according to the forecast of a University of Arizona climate expert.

INTERACTIVE: See how monsoons work

The coming monsoon will pack stronger, more frequent thunderstorms in the state, according to the forecast of a University of Arizona climate expert.

INTERACTIVE: See how monsoons work

Also, the pre-monsoon weather is expected to be warmer than normal with more lightning strikes than usual, Chris Castro said Wednesday.

This “dry lightning” is a concern because these storms produce gusty winds that help spread lightning-sparked flames.

It is not yet known when the moisture will arrive, said Castro, an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. Also undetermined is which areas will receive the most rain.

The monsoon is the summer phenomenon of humid air flowing northward into the Southwest. When the monsoon is in full force, muggy days can lead to stormy afternoons.

Those storms, in an average year, drop about 2 3/4 inches of rain in Phoenix. That’s about a third of the annual total.

But if Castro’s predictions hold true, the 2008 monsoon’s rainfall will surpass the average — and it will do so sooner rather than later.

Castro explained that weather across the globe currently is being affected by a La Niña pattern, in which the waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean are colder than usual. Arizona, during a La Niña, typically has a dry winter, and that pattern has held up. But the La Niña also brings about an active monsoon, especially in late June into July, Castro said.

June 15 through Sept. 30 has been designated statewide as Arizona Monsoon Season. The National Weather Service has eliminated the strict determination of the monsoon’s beginning as marked by three straight days with dew points of at least 55 degrees.

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