When you think of a monsoon, you might be thinking of a tropical rainforest, weeks of downpour, and exotic animals hiding under giant leaves. But the North American monsoon happens every year during this time and brings with it intense rain, rapidly changing weather patterns, and even major dust storms.
The North American Monsoon normally affects parts of Mexico and the southwestern United States, including regions in Texas and Arizona.
This year, the monsoon season started later than normal – and most areas still haven’t seen the full effect. But it is expected to last until September 30th of this year, and meteorologists promise that severe monsoon weather is coming, so don’t count it out yet.
Why is The Monsoon Delayed?
The North American Monsoon started later than usual this year because of this being an El Nino year, something that doesn’t happen every year but affects pretty much all weather patterns when it does.
An El Nino is when sea surface temperatures int eh tropical Pacific are warmer than usual, bringing warm, wet air to the US. It also changes the air currents directed to the US, which can affect the precipitation and temperatures on land.
Meteorologists say that the effects of the El Nino will be felt throughout the end of summer and beginning of fall, directly coinciding with the monsoon season this year.
What Can You Expect from This North American Monsoon Season?
As always, intense flash rainstorms, major lightning, and dust storms are all expected until the end of next month.
So far, storms have been less intense than expected and precipitation in the areas is lower than previously recorded years. But rain and intense winds are expected to ramp up in the coming weeks and the monsoon really kicks into gear.
Wildfire Risk is Major
With a delay in the expected levels of rain, the wildfire risk in the southwest is now at a high level. The previously-wet vegetation from the winter has spent this extra-hot summer drying out and becoming particularly flammable.
If water levels don’t increase soon, the next intense lightning strike or improperly made fire could cause chaos and intense wildfires. While the area has been lucky so far with drought levels this year, California and Arizona have already experienced some fires.
Rain and storms are expected to pick up later in this month, with monsoon season finally kicking into high gear.