Waiting for the Monsoons


Low pressure in the Southwest deserts sucks moisture into Colorado

You know that it’s been hot when 95 degrees is comfortable.  The National Weather Service says that Friday we will drop below 90 for a high – comparatively chilly.
The cool weather will be nice.  But what we are really waiting for are the monsoons.
I always feel weather forecasters are a little presumptuous calling mid summer moisture in Colorado “monsoons”.  I mean, our piddly precip is nothing compared with the six months of torrential rain that most people normally think of when they hear the word “monsoon”.
But according to weather people, “a monsoon is a wind that changes direction with the seasons.”  By that definition, Colorado has a monsoon.  Summer sunshine beating down on the desert of Southwest Arizona, California, old and New Mexico warms the air, causing it to rise.  This creates a vacuum near the ground, called a low pressure cell.  The low pressure sucks moist air from the Pacific and Gulf of California, bringing storms to the west and southwest part of the state.  On the Western Slope, the monsoons make late summer the wettest time of year.  There is less of an effect on the eastern side of the Continental Divide, but we still see some thunderstorms coming over the mountains.
This moisture is nothing compared to the classic monsoons of south Asia and east  Africa, but Coloradoans are glad to get moisture in any form, this year more than ever.

About coloradogeography

Amy Law is a science geek. She feels about science the way some people feel about music, or art, or sports – a total and complete emotional connection. She thinks in science. For Amy, there’s nothing better than helping people see the beauty of science as she does. She loves to untangle a complicated subject into its parts, explaining it so that anybody can understand what’s happening. Let her show you her world...
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1 Response to Waiting for the Monsoons

  1. Lisa says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Amy!

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