Saturday, July 24, 2010

Let the Rains Come Down


The arid southwestern states of Arizona and New Mexico get a large part of their summer moisture from the monsoons. Yeah, I hear you all saying, that is in India not the desert. Even though the term monsoon was originally defined for the Indian subcontinent, monsoon circulations exist in other locations of the world as well, such as in Europe, Africa, and the west coasts of Chile and the United States.

The word "monsoon" is derived from the Arabic word "mausim" which means season. Ancient traders sailing in the Indian Ocean and adjoining Arabian Sea used it to describe a system of alternating winds which blow persistently from the northeast during the northern winter and from the opposite direction, the southwest, during the northern summer. Thus, the term monsoon actually refers solely to a seasonal wind shift, and not to precipitation. 

New Mexico is located in the area of the United States that experiences a monsoonal circulation. During the summer months, winds shift from a west or northwest direction to a south or southeasterly direction. This allows moisture from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico to stream into the state. This shift in the winds, or monsoonal circulation, produces a radical change in moisture conditions statewide. Every year we wait anxiously for this shift in the winds and applaud the the arrival of the rains.

They're here! I personally recorded more than an inch of rain yesterday in just the space of a few short hours. Everything outside my windows is suddenly very green. Tourists that come here to escape the heat of Houston or Dallas can get in an immense amount of trouble by criticizing the interruption of their afternoon round of golf or that they need a sweater or hoodie to cope with the 60 F degree temps. Not nice to disrespect our rains. And if you thought you could come to the mountains without at least a hoodie you're an idiot.

Besides the rains are not all day. They seldom begin before two p.m. so hike and golf mornings but take a poncho just in case. Nap in the afternoons with the rain hitting the roof. And enjoy that you are not suffering 110 degree heat with 90% humidity.

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