Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Mon, June 24

Mediocre monsoon comes to an end

PRESCOTT - If not for the second half of July, Prescott would have had an incredibly dismal monsoon this year.

As it stands, the near-daily good rainfalls during those two weeks helped boost this year's monsoon precipitation to approximately 85 percent of average in Prescott.

Since the National Weather Service does not track monsoon start and end dates or average monsoon precipitation for northern Arizona, Prescott can compare its monsoons only through its rainfall for July through September.

July's precipitation at the National Weather Service's official measuring site on the northeast side of Prescott was 164 percent of average, the first time that Prescott had seen above-average precipitation since this past October.

It went downhill after that, with 54 percent of the average in August. As of the halfway mark in September, Prescott had received only 0.13 inches of precipitation, or 8 percent of the monthly average.

As residents likely have noticed, monsoon rain can be spotty. For example, Prescott Valley reported 2.25 inches of rain on Sept. 6 and Prescott saw none of it.

The Weather Service office in Phoenix officially declared an end to the monsoon on Sept. 11, less than two months after it began July 19. Officials said the 0.67 inches of rain at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix produced the driest monsoon in 14 years and the eighth driest on record.

Local forecaster Curtis James, who sends out informal e-mails from his Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University meteorology office in Prescott, cited the end of the monsoon Monday.

Cooler air already is settling into Prescott, with forecast highs below 80 degrees all week. The Weather Service is forecasting a dry week other than a 10 percent chance of rain Thursday.

An unseasonably strong Pacific low-pressure system is approaching Arizona and likely will lead to even cooler temperatures by this weekend, James noted Monday. It also could bring chances of precipitation, the Weather Service noted.

The fall season officially arrives at 2:51 a.m. Sunday, when the autumnal equinox occurs and the daylight is the exact same length as the night at 12 hours.

Northern Arizona's second rainy season of winter is not looking good in the forecast.

The country's Climate Prediction Center says the La Niña weather phenomenon will develop further and possibly strengthen during the next three months.

La Niña, a cooling of the sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, tends to bring drier weather to the Southwest.

So it appears highly unlikely that Arizona's long-term drought could end anytime soon.

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