The rainy season is unleashed with anger and beauty in the southwestern United States


Flagstaff, Arizona (AP) —The rainy season was furiously unleashed this summer after two years of drought that sank deep into the southwestern United States.

The monsoon storm brought spectacular lightning shows, wildflowers and mushroom blessings, and brought record rainfall to the deserts of the region. They also caused destruction, flooding streets and homes, resulting in some quick water rescue and some death.

This is a striking reversal from 2019 and 2020, when an annual period simply called the “monsoon” dried the region. Seasonal weather patterns from mid-June to September raise expectations for rain, but humidity is not guaranteed.

Mike Climins, a climatologist at the University of Arizona, said: “And here comes the 2021 monsoon. It’s like we’re trying to make up for the last two seasons.”

Tucson in southern Arizona was the rainiest on record in July and the 16th rainiest in August. Phoenix Airport is about an inch (2.5 centimeters) above average this season, but far from reaching a monsoon record of rainfall, the National Weather Service said. Some high-altitude cities in the metropolitan Phoenix worked better.

Payson has recorded nearly a foot (30 centimeters) of rain so far — about 5 inches (12 centimeters) above. normal.. According to the Meteorological Bureau, hail 2.5 inches (6.4 centimeters) in diameter was falling in the area south of Flagstaff.

“This is what you usually see in midwestern news during the tornado season,” said Flagstaff meteorologist Cindy Kobolb. .. “

Some locations, such as Navajo Nation’s Window Rock and Albuquerque, New Mexico, are just behind normal rainfall this season due to the haphazard nature of the monsoon, while others are significantly behind. Was there.

This week, the remains of a tropical cyclone Nora have pushed moisture into the area. Whenever a storm occurs, authorities warn about the danger of flooding. Since the beginning of this year’s monsoon, at least 10 people have died in Arizona and at least four have died in floods in New Mexico.

Despite the abundant rainfall, the region is still heading for hotter and drier weather due to climate change.The entire state of Arizona has been hit by some drought, and most of New Mexico Drought monitor in the United States..

“I don’t think I’ll see this every summer, so I’m really enjoying it in its current state,” Crimins said.

The monsoon is characterized by a changing pattern of winds that draws moisture from the tropical coast of Mexico. Many cities in Arizona and New Mexico experience much of the annual rainfall during the monsoon. During the strong season, humidity spreads to southern Utah, Colorado, and California, Crimins said.

Downpour can replenish shallow aquifers and temporarily increase reservoirs. But like the Colorado River, which is everywhere in the western United States, drought-stricken lakes and rivers are not resolved by rain. These systems rely primarily on snowmelt and have been declining for over 20 years due to megadrought.

According to forecasts, the expected weather pattern in La Niña this winter means that there may be a shortage of snow in the west. It is worried about the fire chief, who has been fighting more and more serious flames like California.

Punky Moore, a spokeswoman for the Southwestern US Forest Office, said: region.

Gene Hall, an entomologist at the University of Arizona, said the same vegetation that could fuel the wildfires would feed the insects as well. He said there were more butterflies, more moths, and more nasty mosquitoes.

Some insects, such as the Palo Verde beetle, such as cockroaches, come out to mate only during the monsoon. After the monsoon rain, hundreds or thousands of flying ants and termites mate together, Hall said.

“Water was desert life and we had a lot of water,” he said. “Everything seems to be working pretty well.”

Count the mushrooms with.

Christopher May of Scottsdale discovered more than 100 fungi this summer during a trip to the mountains of Arizona, including some rare ones. He said that the more rain there is, the easier it is to find and sometimes it covers the floor like a coral reef in the ocean.

“We are now doing some of the best mushroom hunting in the country, probably the best,” he said.

Anissa Doten has a love-hate relationship with the monsoon. She grew up in Tucson, watching the sky brighten as thunderstorms rushed in and listening to the rain. It was her favorite weather and it was almost magical, she said.

Living in the shadow of a burning mountain with Flagstaff in 2019, her feelings are more complicated. The house she shares with her five children has been repeatedly flooded this year, including during a single storm that authorities have characterized as a “500-year” rain event.

Every time an alert sounds on their cell phone, they rush to check the meteorological meter and scramble to make sure everyone is safe and someone is pumping water into the house to rebuild the sandbag layer. increase.

“It’s a completely different mode of anxiety-driven behavior,” she said.