Monsoon season fizzled out this year

While this year's monsoon started off strong in Northern Arizona, the final two months weren't much to sing in the rain about.

The combined months of July through September produced only 68 percent of the average rainfall at Prescott's Sundog measuring site on the northeast side of town, with 5.33 inches of rain compared to the 7.86-inch average for Prescott over the past 110 years.

Less-than-average rainfall was the picture throughout northern Arizona during the 2008 monsoon, the National Weather Service reported Thursday. The Four Corners was especially dry.

Weather Service offices throughout the Southwest participated in an online climate briefing Thursday that the Climate Assessment for the Southwest and University of Arizona Cooperative Extension periodically organize.

Northern Arizona experienced an unusual number of "breaks" in wet weather during the 2008 monsoon, partly because the high pressure was farther west and north than usual, a Weather Service meteorologist said.

The next few weeks could bring wetter and cooler weather, one meteorologist said.

But in general, federal climate forecasters are predicting above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation for October and November.

A weather phenomenon called the Madden-Julian Oscillation could bring greater-than--average precipitation to the northern third of Arizona in December through March, a federal meteorologist at the Southwest Coordination Center noted.

The Weather Service recently declared that the monsoon runs from June 15 through Sept. 30 every year now, but Prescott didn't see a drop of rain in June.

July brought 2.94 inches (102 percent of normal) at Sundog, but then August had 1.75 inches (53.5 percent of average) and September produced 0.64 inches (37 percent of average).

Southeast Arizona fared the best during this year's monsoon, with some areas measuring 20-25 inches of rain, Weather Service officials said.

Phoenix didn't do so badly either. The 5.7 inches of rain that fell at Sky Harbor airport amounted to the 10th-greatest monsoon rainfall total in its history.

Ironically, that was more than Flagstaff's 5.44 inches of rain, which was only 70 percent of normal.

Several unusually severe thunderstorms hit parts of Arizona during this year's monsoon.

Thousands of trees fell Aug. 28 during a severe storm in the Valley of the Sun, with winds reaching at least 85 mph.

The Mohave Valley experienced winds of 80-100 mph Aug. 25 during a severe storm that destroyed 40 of the 50 hangars at Eagle Valley airport, the Weather Service said.

In New Mexico, different areas experienced wide variations of monsoon rain.

It was the wettest July on record for Cloudcroft (13.33 inches) and Winston (11.16 inches).

Ruidoso recorded 4-7 inches (11 inches in the mountains above) in fewer than 24 hours on July 27, causing severe flooding on the Rio Ruidoso that damaged more than 250 homes and caused more than $15 million worth of damage.

Contact the reporter at jdodder@prescottaz.com.