Sunday, June 15, 2008

The New Monsoon Season

I am outraged to read that the National Weather Service has decided to mess with our sacred monsoon season again.

Our dramatic summer thunder and lightning storms are one of the best reasons to live in the Sonoran Desert. Desert rats endure the ever-increasing humidity and heat (it was 111 today!) until one magical summer afternoon, the air gets cool, the wind blows hard and we all happily get drenched by the rain goddess who pours water from her ancient clay jug. If we're lucky, we'll also get some hail. The flashes of lightning over the Catalina Mountains are better than fireworks. Flooded streets are to be expected. It's just a matter of time before some clown drives his car around the road closure barriers into six feet of water in the Sixth Avenue underpass and gets cited under the "Stupid Motorist Law".

Those who inexplicably don't appreciate all this excitement go to San Diego.

Until last year, the start date for the monsoon season was determined by watching the dew point. On the first of three days on which the average dew point was 54 degrees or above, the monsoon season was said to start, according to those persickity people at the National Weather Service. No rain is required by this method, and we never knew the glorious monsoon season had begun until three days later. By this reckoning, the earliest recorded monsoon season started on June 17, 2000, and the latest started July 25, 1987. Through the 1990s, the average start date was July 3 and in the aughts, it has been July 7.

Obviously, this method has a lot of problems, the biggest one being its lack of correlation to actual rainfall. Most desert rats think this methodology is a joke, and rely on their own definitions of monsoon.

Steve says the monsoon starts when the first drop of rain falls in our yard. I say it starts when I personally witness a down pour with street flooding somewhere in Tucson, regardless of what the weather is doing at our house, which very likely is nothing.

What these definitions lack in the scientific method, they make up in the satisfaction of knowing with conviction that the monsoons have arrived.

Believe it or not, according to those meddlers at the NWS, today is the first day of the monsoon season. Henceforth, or until the NWS comes to its senses, the monsoon season will be from June 15 to September 30, every year! Have you ever heard anything so lame?

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