Monsoon rainfall set to continue this week in the Southwest
Rounds of heavy rain and thunderstorms have brought intense flooding to portions of the Southwest in recent days and weeks due to the North American monsoon kicking on all cylinders across the region. Many cities in the area received significantly more rainfall than normal for the month of July and AccuWeather forecasters say that the pattern isn't set to break anytime soon.
The Southwest has been no stranger to heavy rain and flooding events recently. In Las Vegas, streets seemingly turned into rivers with several casinos experiencing water leaks as downpours hit Sin City in late July. Major flooding also occurred across much of Arizona, leading to a large number of water rescues in the state.
This past Friday, roughly 1,000 people were trapped in Death Valley National Park as the park received over 14 times their normal August rainfall in a single day, causing the exit roads to become washed out. Along the Southern California coast, which is often spared from monsoon-related rainfall due to a persistent stream of Pacific moisture, rain was reported in some places for the first time in months. In Irvine, California, located approximately 35 miles southeast of Los Angeles, rain fell for several hours, according to observed weather data in the region.
AccuWeather meteorologists say that there will be more opportunities for soaking and, in some cases, flooding rainfall this week, following a brief decrease in moisture over the weekend.
"On Monday, more widespread rainfall will be in the cards once again," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said.
As this moisture surges northward and spawns showers and thunderstorms, those spending lengthy amounts of time outside or camping should remain on alert for rapidly changing conditions, including rapidly rising river levels. Even if heavy rain is not falling nearby, runoff from a thunderstorm can cause water levels to rise almost instantly, even miles away.
While many cities such as Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico, are known for their hot and dry weather, this week's increase in humidity will make these desert cities feel more like Florida at times. The humidity can also make it feel deceptively warmer compared to the actual air temperature, therefore meteorologists recommend to those participating in outdoor strenuous activities should try to do so during the cooler morning or evening hours.
The rain will also be beneficial for most of the Southwest as almost all of the region is in some stage of drought. Eighty-two percent of Utah and 60 percent of California are considered to be in either extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Even in Arizona, which has had some of the region's heaviest and most consistent rainfall, over 90 percent of the state still remains in some form of drought, proving that it will take a prolonged period of wet weather to break the drought conditions.
Forecasters expect the heaviest rainfall should stay inland from the California coast, but some rain in cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego cannot be ruled out.
"The coastal mountain ranges and cool air from the Pacific Ocean often work together to keep rain chances low right along the Southern California coast. But this week, enough tropical moisture may be present to allow some rain to sneak a bit farther westward," Buckingham explained.
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