Ken Clark

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First Signs of the Summer Southwest Monsoon

June 23, 2014; 2:33 PM

This is the time of year where we look for the seasonal wind shift in the Southwest, commonly called the Summer Monsoon. The usual west-to-east wind pattern shifts to some version of east to west or southeast to northwest. This wind shift brings tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and even eastern Pacific into New Mexico, Arizona and parts of California, Nevada and Utah. With the arrival of this moisture, we end the everyday dry weather pattern to one that is considerably more humid and uncomfortable. The moisture is also converted into showers and thunderstorms by the strong heating of the day. The thunderstorms can also bring with them haboobs, or severe dust storms.

The rain with the monsoon season is mostly welcomed. It helps to bring at least some rain to a part of the year that would normally have none. However, too much rain can fall too quickly in thunderstorms and produce violent, life-threatening flash floods in normally dry washes. Thunderstorms, while bringing rain, can also bring lightning that starts fires miles away from where any rain falls.

The models are showing that this shift in the winds could come as soon as early next week as high pressure aloft builds around the Four Corners. Here is a look at what the GFS is forecasting for the 500 mb flow by July 1.

Other models, including the fairly reliable European model, is forecasting something similar.

You can follow me on Twitter @Kenwxman.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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Ken Clark
Ken Clark's Western U.S. weather blog tackles daily weather events with commentary from one of the most experienced and trusted Western U.S. weather experts.