Monsoon Special 2013: Science behind predicting monsoon thunderstorms

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by Royal Norman & Kim Quintero

Bio | Email | Follow: @kimquintero

azfamily.com

Posted on June 6, 2013 at 3:38 PM

TUCSON, Ariz -- It's hard for forecasters to predict monsoon thunderstorms more than a day or two out, but one model definitely helps us answer a lot of questions. It's called a Weather Research and Forecasting Model.

It was developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

The model provides a forecast out to two days. The day one forecast is pretty accurate. After that, we can get a general idea of where storms are going to happen, but pinpointing them becomes tricky.

The Weather Research and Forecasting model was pretty good with the now infamous dust storm that blew through in early July 2011.

"When you think of when the dust storm moved passed through Phoenix, it was multimillion dollars in damage to power systems to infrastructure to delays at the airport, so it allows us the power to have that very accurate tool for short-term planning," said Christopher Castro, an associate professor at the University of Arizona.

There's a big hole in our forecasting technology and that's south of the border. There is very little weather balloon data that's being collected over northern Mexico so we don't get a clear picture of what's happening before storms reach us.

 

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