FROM THE EDGE OF THE COUNTRY

Yesterdays project really caught up with me overnight. Now I have to consider if I do more concrete or wait till tomorrow. Probably after I decompress and get going I’ll be able to do something by afternoon without my back going out.

But instead of whining to you, how about a photo from the end of the monsoon season? At bottom of post.

There was some silly talk in weather circles last year, or more probable chamber of commerce circles (guessing), about turning our weak monsoon season, by world standards, into “summer thunderstorm season”. I imagine something that will not scare people from moving here. Tucson has been considered the friendliest city in the country. It keeps changing in modern ways, not the small town people seem to have so loved during and before Howard Hughes days. If you want to know more insider information about Tucson, drop me a note.

A local clinic here at the border, has trouble having doctors consider moving here from tales of shootings in Mexico, and drug traffic, plus hoards of illegal aliens at the door. It is nothing like that. Even being at the last or first house in the country, there is not apparent drug traffic nor shootings in my neighborhood. Plus incidents in Mexico, after hitting the national news, sometimes end up never having happened. There are some interest, interested in raising the temperature on these things. It does effect some people coming here though that we need, and that is of no service to us.

THE HEAT IS ON: SOME LIKE IT HOT

People do get scared of such things, even who is hotter than who. Phoenix a while back moved its thermometer to a place where it would read lower and be not as different as Tucson. That was the allegation. Yet I knew from one practically commuting from Tucson to Phoenix, that it was usually much hotter there. That year anyway. In a few years, or weeks, one adapts to some degree about the degrees outside.

So that temperature would not affect ones decision of moving to Tucson rather than Phoenix. I think it was a few years later that Tucson moved its to a cooler spot, to get it more back to reality. Tucson is at least usually 3 or 4 (or 8) degrees cooler (higher elevation). I believe that over 103 degrees, each degree higher taxes ones body 30% or so more. With those above changes, is a 116 degree day actually hotter than that old 117?

I have worked outside at the old gauge at 114 and 116 degree days on a large businesses white roof, without shade, dew-points in the 60’s and no clouds due to high pressure subsidence. My body screamed during the afternoon to get out of there. When getting off the roof to the new blacktop pavement, I got the shivers from-cold. The reflective white-roof coating had made the bodies heat factor much much higher! (Working in attics can be 140 or so degrees with the same effect when you get down into the building. Your drenched from sweat body gets air cooled fast.) The white roof sheds the heat off the roof and right back at you.

I painted many of my tools white, so as to not burn my hands. Guess what? Everyone started coming around when there to borrow my tools. Cool. Most macho tools are black or dark gray. Some brands signature colors are orange, yellow and green and such, but no sissy white.

Anyway. I heard that “fact” about each degree above 103 increasing heat release stress, and thought it must be wrong, or I must be wrong about this kind of heat index. For me though, each degree above 105 is definitely noticeable, especially in monsoon season. I was driving in my little not air conditioned Toyota truck on Tucson’s hottest moment of 117 at 3 something on a late June afternoon after work and thought; this is really quite searing. My arm out the door in the sun. I had been in 120 degree weather in Phoenix, way hotter. Where I now live further south, much cooler from the elevation, and in summer, mountain cloudiness and night cooling.

EVERYBODY RUN! THE MONSOONS ARE COMING!

Monsoon seasons are a regular seasonal change in prevailing winds to one generalized direction. They can even be dry period monsoons. Frightening!

The southwest monsoon, sometimes called the Arizona monsoon or New Mexico and Arizona one, affects the Rockies sometimes all the way up to Canada, gets into southern California somewhat, then up to Washington state. Other times that air riding the Bermuda Highs big spin, even enhances storms arching over to the middle to northeast parts of the country. It just does that now and then, so is not a legitimate monsoon for youz gyz over der.

Sometimes a newscaster here from who knows where, or without a care, call an individual storm; “A monsoon hit last night!”

The monsoon weather is greatly affected by high and low pressure during the season. A low throwing air from out in the pacific off of California can push our humid air into New Mexico and Texas, but we want it overall. Embedded retrograde lows off of the Gulf of Mexico or the Caribbean in and up through Mexico can give us cloudy and very wet days of storminess, usually a few days. Sometimes if too cloudy and not enough low pressure to lift the air up, its just mostly some orographic storms near the mountains, otherwise just cooler and cloudy for us. It is funny in Tucson. One cloudy day can have people worrying over when the sun will come back.

Most of our monsoonal thunderstorms come from day heating. They form over mountains, then go one way or another, usually depending on steering currents. The “Four Corners High” is a classic good storm set up for the valleys in Tucson and Phoenix sometimes, driving the storms from the northeast down into the valleys. Since I live near where some storms most always start forming by noon on years where there is not to much suppression from high pressure nearby, sometimes these new storms “jump over” or divide around us. Often when people back east hear its 115 in Phoenix and even humid, by three in the afternoon here it may be a cool and cloudy fresh 75 degrees. While at noon it might have gotten to 98.

THE SEASONS EXTENT OF INFLUENCE

Monsoon season where I am usually starts by the end of June, Tucson a week later or so, Phoenix maybe a week later still. The moisture spreads up from mesoscale storms collapse southeast in Mexico moving moisture north, especially over night from outflow boundaries. As the southeast moisture train gets established.

Monsoon season usually ends all at once, as Pacific low pressures drive drier westerly air, that throws the southeast flow out for good in a day or two, usually in September. Once and a while some Mexico moisture or southern Pacific tropical storm-hurricanes, get moist air back in in fall. But that is kinda extra outside true monsoon.

THE OTHER “RAINY” SEASONS

Fall rains are what can lead to extraordinary wildflower seasons in late winter-spring. We have had about 4 inches here this winter so far, but probably out of classic fall rains timing and temperature for germination. Although it was warm late in the season, who knows? I’m expecting something to come up though.

Many hybrid plants are derived from plants of the southwest, cultured at agricultural research and development facilities. Usually to have much larger flowers, but keeping that drought tolerance. Unique rainfall periods can lead to flowers appearing that locals might say they have never seen before. The right moment is there unique niche. El Nino winters often can lead to a few big rainy periods, even with funnel clouds here or there in the state.

Sometimes in el nino’s, California and western Arizona get soaked, us next to nothing, depends on degree of the el nino, angle of moisture flow and pressure positions. 20 miles can make all the difference.

We suffer the limitations of moisture often during monsoon season and cooling from storms already ignited. A storm takes available moisture out of the air on that day and hour, barring no flow throwing more energy in, like an outflow boundary or mesoscale complex making its own larger scale move. Since our dew-points usually do not rise much above the mid 60’s, yet local temperatures get quite high storms can be both windy and rapidly cooling. That windiness and mini cold front can start the next storm which in a matter of twenty minutes, may cancel the mother storms energy. This phenomenon often has us thinking we were robbed of wanted moisture that seemed to be roaring right up to us. Mountain ranges also channel the available energy at times to a similar result.

The last two years have been great here in summer, 16″ the former, about 14″ the latter, compared to dismal 6 and 5 some prior years. So far 2″ is about our maximum here, in about 35 minutes. In Des Plains IL. one summer I was in around 4″ in 45 minutes, that intense wavy tropical downpour that just did not quit. I was also in around 4″ in 4 hours over night of continuous thunderstorms in Tucson over my neighborhood when there was a 0% chance of rain predicted, due to a westerly monsoon blowout. But a small low moved right down the western Rockies, 1,000 mile in one day from Canada. It made the turn east in Northeast Tucson, then just sat 4 hours over Northeast Tucson sucking in that departing moisture, perhaps trapped by Mt Lemon (Catalina’s) north and the Rincon mountain range east of Tucson. They form a kind of pocket in southwesterly component flows. Near constant nearby lightning went on and on. The whole yard and area became a river, a sea flowing downhill northeast to the major river wash a good mile away. I went out to see the flood (5am) and saw a woman walking around in the nearby intersection. She was talking to herself in watter up to her knees. I have never seen that intersection totally flooded ever, let alone 2 ‘ deep.

Did you ever want to know all this?

The photo here is of a late season type. Dew points diminishing, along with daytime heating due to shorter days. You can have storms like this anytime more dry air is around or nothing else to provide lift that the mountains these are over and the days heating. They diminish nearing sunset, possibly after just being stimulated by some outflow boundary riding up the range. Then they get this airy look, particularly of the one at the left. Might not even be any rain falling from it. In twenty minutes their might be practically nothing left of the cloud mass.

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