What is a Monsoon?

What’s a monsoon?

When you typically hear monsoon used in TV and movies, you think a whole lot of rain!

It turns out, that’s only half the answer.

The meteorological definition of a monsoon is the seasonal reversal of the overall wind pattern in an area.

This usually results in a rainy season and a dry season.

Monsoons happen all around the world, usually in coastal regions where temperature differences in land and water are enough to cause a shift in the winds.

In the Southwest United States, the monsoon season begins in July.

Intense heat builds in Arizona and New Mexico and since heat rises, a thermal low pressure system forms at the surface.

This low pressure draws air and moisture from the Gulf of California and the Pacific.

Then, in multiple waves, thunderstorms form across the desert Southwest and the four corners region, which can lead to flash flooding in an area that rarely sees rain the rest of the year.

By September or October, that thermal low begins to break down and winds revert to their usual flow, cutting off any significant chance for rain.

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