Trusted local news leader for Kingman, Arizona & Mohave County
Mon, April 22

Early monsoon season doesn't mean more rain

The monsoon season, which normally begins in Kingman around July 13-14, arrived early when the dew point topped 55 degrees for three consecutive days during the first week of the month.

But an early start to the monsoon does not necessarily mean we can expect an especially wet one, weather experts say.

"It has never been shown that the start date has any relation to the length or intensity of the monsoon," said Randy Cerveny, professor of geography at Arizona State University.

"Last year, we had an early start to the monsoon and a month of nothing in Phoenix.

It started June 17 and we didn't really have any significant rainfall until the end of July."

John Adair, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas, said he would not read anything into the early start of the monsoon season in Kingman.

Data obtained from the Western Regional Climate Center in Reno, Nev., indicates the heaviest rainfall in Kingman for the monsoon months of July and August was 7.83 inches in 1931.

That included the wettest August on record with 6.57 inches.

Other wet monsoon seasons of July and August included 6.6 inches in 1919 and 6.27 inches in 1904.

The two driest monsoon season recorded by the WRCC were .04 inches in 1928 and .07 inches in 1989.

However, data is only available for 1901-1993.

WRCC spokesman Jim Ashby said there has not been a reliable weather spotter in Kingman since 1993 to gather and report the necessary information.

In addition, some months for the years 1901-1993 are missing data from up to five days of a particular month.

The result is incomplete information for the monsoon months in 1901, 1907, 1909, 1913, 1936, 1938-39, 1944, 1954, 1967 and 1992.

Kingman received no measurable rainfall in June, according to information from the Arizona State University Office of Climatology.

The average maximum temperature in June was 95.6 and the average minimum temperature was 63.4.

Temperatures topped 100 degrees daily in the week preceding the start of the monsoon.

"That was due to a high pressure system over the desert southwest," Adair said.

"Circulation around the system was such that as it moved closer to the Four Corners area it brought up moisture from Mexico into Arizona."

Those 100-plus temperature days were a prelude to the start of the monsoon season, Cerveny said.

"To get moisture up from Mexico you need very hot air over the southwest," Cerveny said.

"Hot air creates low pressure and that sucks up moisture from Mexico, so you need a hot June for a good monsoon in July and August."

The National Climate Prediction Center's latest report for the Southwest indicates northwest Arizona can expect near normal precipitation and above normal temperatures for the next 90 days.

"Temperatures will be above normal for most of the West, but particularly in Nevada, Utah and northern Arizona, perhaps 5-10 degrees above normal," Cerveny said.

"The Prediction Center says near normal precipitation, but the problem with that is the monsoon.

It's a time in which we get individual thunderstorms that contribute most of our annual rainfall and you can go 89 days with no rain and then get one shower that gives you close to a year's precipitation."

Kingman's average maximum and minimum temperatures are 95.9 and 69.3 for July, 93.9 and 67.4 for August, according to the ASU Office of Climatology.

Average precipitation is 1.08 inches in July and 1.44 inches in August for Kingman.


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