In the desert Southwest, where there is a long-term megadrought, there is a moderate danger of heavy rainfall (level 3 of 4), which might cause flash floods on Friday and Saturday.
The Southwest US is expected to see a multi-day major rainfall event this weekend, according to the Weather Prediction Center. “Impactful rainfall with storm total amounts of 5-6 inches is most possible across portions of southeast Arizona into southwest New Mexico.”
Through Saturday, flood warnings are in effect for around 10 million people in the Southwest, including Tucson, Phoenix, Albuquerque, and El Paso.
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Senior meteorologist Zack Taylor at the Weather Prediction Center noted that the new surge of moisture is being caused by a variety of reasons, including the leftovers of a tropical wave that is currently over northern Mexico and is embedded in the larger-scale monsoon.
The timing of the storms is one aspect that sets this particular event apart. Monsoon storms typically happen in the late afternoon and early evening since they are driven by the day. This time, there will be a constant chance of rain. As usual, storms will develop in the afternoon and early evening, but they will also develop overnight on Friday and early on Saturday.
Regarding the impact of the following system, there are two time frames: the short term, which would cause flash floods, and the long term, which would have an impact on the local rivers, creeks, and streams.
According to Jeff Davis, senior meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Tucson, “the early flash flooding is the biggest concern.” But by Monday, several of the major stem rivers that are often dry and some of the larger washes that are typically dry may start to experience significant floods.
By the weekend’s conclusion, the rain will move eastward into Texas, another state that is severely drought-stricken. From Lubbock, Texas, to Shreveport, Louisiana, 3-5 inches of rain are anticipated early next week, which will raise the risk of flash flooding there.
Although not enough, monsoon rains are assisting with the drought.
Despite the desert Southwest’s reputation as a dry region of the nation, this time of year is when precipitation is most likely to occur. The Southwest benefits from the wet season, but improvements are sometimes only surface-level.
The drought-stricken area already has a water shortage, so rain is needed, but it might not be as helpful as it seems.
The fact that the forthcoming torrential rain is not anticipated to surge far enough north or west, away from the water-starved states of California, Nevada, Oregon, and northern Utah, is one of the worries concerning it.
The most recent US Drought Monitor reports that “many significant regions of improvement were recorded this week, with the biggest rainfall and most widespread improvement covering Arizona.” “The high rains have inspired broad-scale improvement in monsoon-affected areas after a protracted period of chronic drought.”
Only few Western regions have benefited from the recent rainfall. Approximately 70% of the West is still experiencing drought, which is a decrease from 90% just three months ago. Only Arizona and New Mexico have seen the greatest advances. Those two states have benefited even more from the recent rains.
According to CNN meteorologist Chad Myers, “monsoonal rainfall constitute barely a fraction of the water needs of the West.” However, over the last three weeks, the latest rains have caused Lake Mead’s level to rise by 1.8 feet.
Myers noted that the melting of the winter snowpack is the primary source of water in this area, but this does not negate the value of rainfall.
Even though the Colorado River basin and Lake Mead would escape the most of the impending precipitation, Myers predicted that plenty will still fall in Utah and Colorado right into the river’s upper drainage basin.
The region is past the midpoint of the US Southwest monsoon season, which spans from June 15 to September 30.
With the most rain falling recently in Las Vegas, the monsoon season’s total precipitation has reached 1.29″, making it the wettest in ten years. However, despite having had slightly more than half of its typical amount of rain up until mid-August, the city is still significantly behind where it ought to be at this point in the year. The 1.29″ this season already places the 2022 monsoon in Vegas as the third-wettest of the twenty-first century. It occurs only two years after the driest monsoon in history, which occurred in the summer of 2020 and produced no discernible rainfall.
Tucson, which is closer by, has recently experienced a variety of monsoon seasons. While 2021 managed to be the third-wettest year on record (12.79″), 2020 was the second-dryest year on record (1.62″). A little more than 2″ had dropped in the city so far this season, which is less than the 3.48″ seasonal average.
Despite having 6.70″ so far this year, Salt Lake City’s annual rainfall average is more than 10 inches. The fact that we are celebrating just a little bit more than half of what is typical is a constant reminder of how severe the drought has been in the area over the last few decades.
This article was contributed to by CNN meteorologists Pedram Javaheri and Tom Sater.
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