Recapping the 2020 monsoon season and how dry it was


UTAH (ABC4) – During the summer months, many Utahns expect the return of heat, sunshine, and thunderstorms. But last year, we missed out on one of those things and it had to do with the lack of a monsoon season.

Of course, we do not expect to see a great amount of thunderstorm activity in the desert southwest, but the surge of moisture from the monsoon does bring in some much needed rain during our driest months.

Most know what the monsoon season is, but for those who may not, Mike Seaman, a lead meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, explains.

“Basically, the North American monsoon is a weather pattern where we bring up moisture from the Gulf of California and the eastern Pacific into the desert southwest, which is typically a hot and dry time of year in early summer. The monsoon basically brings some relief from that dry weather and the heat.”

This weather pattern is driven by a large high pressure system that is situated over the four corners area. Due to its position over the desert southwest, it brings in moist tropical air inland and provides the necessary water for some late afternoon and evening storms. This is a very important water replenishing source for Southern Utah during the summer.

Unfortunately, we did not see this last year.

“Well, 2020 was basically the non-soon as opposed to the monsoon. What happens occasionally is that high pressure will become more expansive and extend further west and further north than its typical position,” says Seaman.

This led to a drastic decrease in summer rainfall which set us on the path for some of the worst drought conditions the state has seen.

On top of not receiving very much rain from the monsoon, which was a record setting driest year, we also set records for hottest late summer time period too.

“In fact, 2020 was the hottest and driest season since 1895 across the west and the desert southwest,” explains Seaman.

Now we hope that the return of monsoon moisture for the 2021 season makes a strong return and can help us lessen our drought.

Next week Meteorologist Cesar Cornejo will find out how they forecast for the upcoming monsoon seasons and what is in store for the 2021 summer monsoon season.

If you want more information regarding last year’s North American monsoon season, click here.

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