Monsoon Season ... in the Mojave Desert?

flooded highway  

For some reason, when I think “monsoon”, I think wet. I think of West Africa, Indonesia, Southeast Asia and India. Las Vegas never comes to mind. Yet this time of year is termed the monsoon season here and I was interested in finding out why.

A monsoon is traditionally defined as “a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation.” There's some debate as to whether the North American incomplete wind reversal is technically a monsoon, but that's what the U.S. National Weather Service chooses to call it.

stop for flooded streets

It's more a seasonal change here that brings moist winds from the Gulf of Mexico and raises humidity levels, sometimes developing into dramatic desert thunderstorms that can cause flash flooding. Even when there is no rain, the season brings a rise in dry lightning storms increasing the risk of lightning striking dry trees and causing fires. We've witnessed flash flooding here. It's not pretty.

According to the National Weather Service, the wettest monsoon season since they have been keeping records was 1984 when 3.94" of rain fell. The driest was in 1944 when only a trace of rain was recorded at the official weather monitoring station at McCarran International Airport.


pigeon bath


It's early yet. So far, monsoon season has been an increase in humidity and therefore discomfort, and enough raindrops to prompt the weeds in Mary's backyard to start poking up. The pigeons have had an opportunity for a little splash in the puddles. We'll see how the season progresses, but we're hoping we'll be back to sea soon … no fear of flooding there, but monsoons … that's a different story.