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    Southwest Storms to Aid Wildfire Efforts

    By By Brian Lada, Meteorologist
    August 03, 2014, 12:17:00 AM EDT

    An increase in moisture from the Southwest monsoon will fuel showers and heavy thunderstorms across the interior West through the weekend.

    While rain from these storms will help battle the ongoing drought and raging wildfires, torrential downpours can lead to flash flooding around major cities in the region.

    Most of the showers and thunderstorms can be expected during the afternoon and continue into the night; however, a few morning showers cannot be ruled out.


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    The zone of heaviest thunderstorms will shift westward for the weekend, focusing around Arizona and New Mexico.

    Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff, Arizona; Las Vegas; and Cedar City, Utah, are a few cities that could be hit with multiple disruptive thunderstorms through Sunday evening.

    Moisture associated with the monsoon will also reach up towards the Pacific Northwest, allowing for spotty thunderstorms to develop as far north as Washington and Idaho.

    Unfortunately for those in California looking for some relief from the ongoing drought, it does not appear like much more than clouds will make it west of the Sierra Nevada.

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    Although the storms bring the danger of flash flooding, water from the storms will help crews battle some of the wildfires raging across the region.

    According to the Incident Information System, there are currently dozens of active wildfires across the West spanning from Arizona to Washington.

    The Yosemite Fire is one of the more well known fires burning in the West and began on July 26, according to the National Park Service.

    In their most recent report, the National Park Service says that more than 1,300 personnel are fighting the blaze, which has consumed at least 4,200 acres with 58 percent containment.

    Lightning helped start numerous fires this week in Northern California and led state officials to call for Army National Guard help in battling the wildfires.

    At least 26 lightning-caused fires were reported after a thunderstorm unleashed about 1,000 ground strikes over Siskiyou County on Tuesday and Wednesday, Inciweb said on its website.

    Guard helicopters and their crews have been activated as a result. Fourteen UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters and three LUH-72 Lakota helicopters will be used, the California Office of Emergency Services said in a news release Friday.

    The Black Hawks and Chinooks are equipped with 660-gallon and 2,000-gallon water buckets, respectively, to fight the flames.


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    Not all of the thunderstorms across the region will help battle against the blazes, however.

    In some cases across the Pacific Northwest where the monsoonal moisture will not be as abundant, some of the thunderstorms may bring little to no rain.

    During these storms, commonly called dry thunderstorms, lightning strikes can spark new wildfires.


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    Looking ahead to the upcoming week, daily thunderstorm activity is expected to continue.

    The focus of the heavy thunderstorms may try and push north into Tuesday, possibly raising flooding concerns in Utah and Wyoming.

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