Why is monsoon season so unpredictable?

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by Natalie Brand

Bio | Email | Follow: @NatalieBrand

azfamily.com

Posted on August 29, 2013 at 9:50 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 29 at 10:00 PM

PHOENIX -- Monsoon madness is making its mark in the Valley this week, lighting up our skies, flooding our streets, and dusting the Valley.

“It’s been pretty much a roller coaster,” said Valerie Meyers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. 

She knows predicting Arizona’s weather during monsoon season is just as much art as science.

“What we’re looking for is those little tiny disturbances that the models just don’t pick up on,” Meyers explained.

Monday’s wild ride caught many of us off guard, but Meyers pointed out key ingredients were in place to cook up a good storm.

“A lot of good surface heating, some sunshine throughout the day, moisture in place, that creates a lot of instability; storms start to brew,” said Meyers.

That afternoon, warm temperatures gave way to a wall of dust.  The massive brown cloud moved over Tempe, and within an hour, pounding rain filled roads with water.  Trees were tossed sideways and power was knocked out to thousands.

Wednesday night, thunderstorms left parts of the West Valley waterlogged.

“We got hit hard,” said Johnna Eckard-Judd.  She and her husband, Ken, live not far from the street that stranded more than one driver after the storm hit.

While cities clean up, signs point to more stormy weather ahead.

“Next couple of days we’re probably going to see an uptick,” said Meyers, looking at the radar.   “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

So while the weather wizards work the radar, it doesn’t take an expert to sum up the season.

“It’s predictably unpredictable,” said Johnna Eckard-Judd.

While she looks forward to the end of monsoon season which runs through Sept. 30, her husband sees the silver lining.

“It’s a change in weather, signal summer is maybe almost possibly coming to an end and fall will be upon us soon,” said Ken Judd.
 

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