Every year, the Monsoon develops a few storylines. Last year, it was the September soakers. In 2010, dust storms dominated the headlines. So what has Monsoon 2015 consistently cranked out? Here’s the three themes I’ve noticed.
#1: Frequency of large hail
This is my 8th Monsoon in Tucson. I don’t recall storms producing hail so large & so frequently. On numerous occasions this year, Tucson’s seen by quarter to even ping pong ball size hail. Because of our sweltering temperatures, hail often melts very quickly as it drops from the storm cores. It’s rare to sustain hailstones larger than quarter-size in southern Arizona.
The most widespread event was June 30th, when Central Tucson was pelted by golf ball size hail that covered the ground in some spots. Meteorologist Chris Rasmussen at NWS Tucson confirmed to me at least 21 reports of quarter-sized hail & larger that day. Quite an event that will likely go down as one of the top 4 weather stories of 2015 in Tucson.
#2: Anvil shading
Otherwise known as the bane to my meteorological existence, anvil shading has hijacked many promising thunderstorm days in Tucson the last few years. Case in point yesterday, when upper level winds sent anvil clouds at 50,000 feet racing ahead of the storm cores. This shielded the sun over the Old Pueblo, choking off instability & the potential for scattered storms.
#3: Late arrival of lightning-caused wildfires
Typically, dry thunderstorms during the June Monsoon ramp-up phase sparks several wildfires. However, Monsoon 2015 delivered four lightning-caused blazes very late in the wildfire season. The Buster Mountain Fire ignited on July 13th, burning roughly 200 acres. July 29th saw the start of the Finger Rock Fire, which charred 750 acres and was visible for many Tucsonans. Lightning also sparked the 1,900 acre Ojo Blanco Fire south of Corona de Tucson on August 20th. 3 days later, the 3 acre Bighorn Mountain Fire began on Pusch Ridge.
The odd part of this is the fact that much of southern Arizona has seen beneficial rainfall. Goes to show how overgrown areas can flare up in a hurry.
What themes have you noticed with Monsoon 2015? Chime in on the comments section below.