What do we expect out of this year’s monsoon season?


UTAH (ABC4) – Last week, we looked at what exactly is the North American Monsoon and just how dry 2020’s season was. As many Utahns know, we saw an abysmal year in terms of monsoonal moisture, but what can we expect for the 2021 season?

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During a year where we are still experiencing the worst drought in years, the monsoonal rain will be a much needed relief for parts of Southern Utah. Unfortunately, the amount of rain we can get from these rains vary on a yearly basis.

But how do forecasters predict the upcoming season?

“Some of the things that we look for are La Niña, El Niño patterns and that can really help create really nice saturated soil moisture conditions thanks to a good or bad of wintertime snowpack,”  explains Jon Meyer, a Ph.D. research climatologist with the Utah Climate Center.

That is not the only tool that atmospheric scientists use to forecast the wetter summer pattern.

“We can also look at generally other tropical types of patterns that can help onset dates. The Madden-Julian oscillation is a really important tropical weather phenomena and when that oscillation is active over the eastern Pacific, that can help really enhance the monsoon season as well” says Meyer.

These weather phenomena bring in the much needed moisture that produces the late afternoon and evening storms we associate with monsoonal rain.

Surprisingly, dry soils actually make an impact on the timing of our monsoon season, allowing for the necessary heat to spark these storms.

Meyer tells us, “So we have two ingredients, really the good news for the monsoon season this year is we have two ingredients helping to shape an early and potentially active monsoon”.

These two ingredients, coupled with dry soils that allow for easier summer heating and the high pressure system that drives our summer weather, look to be very promising in our outlook.

But locating where the moisture and monsoonal rains fall is still up in the air and dependent on where our main weather maker sets up for the summer.

For our areas that do rely on this summer rain, such as Southwestern Utah, the Climate Prediction Center has us under equal chances for above or below normal precipitation. But of course, we are hoping for the former as we will need the moisture.

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