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Monday, June 17, 2013

Early Monsoon Season?

Meteorologists in these parts always joke that the "official" start of monsoon season is July 4th, but it can begin several weeks on either side of that date.  "Monsoon" means "change of season," and here in the desert Southwest it refers to a change in the direction of the jetstream, which moves in such a way as to permit moist, humid air to funnel in from the Gulf of Mexico.

This is the beginning of the thunderstorm season in the Chihuahuan Desert, when the region gets the bulk of its much-needed moisture.  And boy do we need it.  I read just this morning that of all the states currently affected by ongoing drought, New Mexico is being hurt the worst.  In Becca's and my daily trips into the desert outback here we have yet to see a single Ocotillo leafing out.  Since Ocotillos grow or shed leaves according to how much moisture is available they are something of the "canary in the mine shaft" for our region.

In 1915-1916 the Elephant Butte Dam created a reservoir along the Rio Grande River in order to use river water for agricultural purposes in the southern portion of New Mexico.  The reservoir is currently at its lowest level ever--just 4% of capability for downstream water users--and farmers in the area (and the city of El Paso, Texas further south) have reverted primarily to using well water pumped from underground aquifers.

That's why everybody in this area is praying for an early start to the monsoon season.  We're hoping that the increased humidity and dewpoint levels will deliver a real payoff.

1 comment:

Dr. K said...

In Santa Fe, where I just spent the past few days, there was a lot of talk about the drought. People are very concerned.

A Nice Bushwhack

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