The Monsoon season has started in New Mexico

• The Monsoons have started in New Mexico.
• Raging arroyos and thunder anvils in the sky.
• What causes the Monsoons?
• Of what benefit are they?

Monsoon thunderstorm from my deck. Click to enlarge then back-arrow to return to blog article.

THE MONSOONS HAVE STARTED, and I collected some facts about this unusual rainy season in New Mexico:
• Gary told me on July 4, Independence Day in the USA, that the monsoons always used to start on July 4. But he has been tracking them for the past 17 years and says there has been a general delay, which he attributes to global warming.
• We have been in drought for 10 months, with only 2-3 significant rains in that whole period.
• But this year, on 5 July, we had a significant rain from a thunderstorm, although it was spotty across Albuquerque.
• The forecast is for cloudy and stormy for many of the next 10 days. After a month of temperatures at or above 95F, the next 10 days are predicted to be at 90F or below.

Kim, my step-daughter, hiking in the mountains during Monsoon season.

• It appears the Monsoon season has arrived. This is important because its when New Mexico gets most of its rain. In ABQ the annual rainfall is 6-12 inches, depending on how close you live to the Sandia mountains. Under 10 inches is classified as desert, and most of New Mexico is desert. But north of Albuquerque (the top third of the state) is where the mountains bring a little more rain, and this part we call “high desert”.

• I found on where they predicted a 50% chance of New Mexico having a better than average Monsoon rainfall this year. I had to laugh because this also means a 50% chance of less than average rainfall. Big help! I suppose this is better than 100% chance of less than average monsoon rainfall.
• The Monsoon comes about when warm humid air streams north from Mexico. The monsoon is caused by intense heating in the region in June, which results in a wind shift that brings moisture and cooling northward into the Southwest. Watch out though: the monsoon can occasionally also bring dust storms, strong winds, floods and dry lightning.
• Our Monsoon is a giggle actually. The real Monsoon sweeps into India and Pakistan with torrential rain, with frequent massive floods and loss of life.

Highway of cooler weather (light blue) filling up New Mexico after 4 July. Click to enlarge then back-arrow to return to blog article.

• Any floods here in NM are minor and local and rare, such as the raging arroyo below. But wildfires each year burn the brush and trees that hold down the soil. Such areas are called burn scars and can result in mudslides when heavy thunderstorms develop.
• The Monsoon season in New Mexico occurs in July and August and may persist into September.
• One thing I nearly forgot is the daily trend. In the monsoon months, the clouds build up in the afternoon and if it rains its usually at 4-6 pm. The rain comes from a thunderstorm and is spotty — meaning my house might not get any rain but 10 miles away Karen may get an inch in an hour. Even if it doesn’t rain, the clouds come over more often than not, and cool everything down in the late afternoon. Meaning the max temperature is below 90 rather than above 95F.

Flooding arroyo just half a mile from my home in ABQ. Only time I’ve seen this in 10 years. Click to enlarge then back-arrow to return to blog article.


• I love the Monsoon season in New Mexico with the cool and the rain and the marvelous thunder-clouds painted on the pastel blue sky.

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Precipitation outlook from NOAA for July 2018. The green patch means likely above average rainfall. Click to enlarge then back-arrow to return to blog article.


The Gray Nomad ….. in the Land of Enchantment.
On the morning of the third day there was a terrific thunder and lightning storm, and a huge cloud came down upon the mountain, and there was a long, loud blast as from a ram’s horn; and all the people trembled. Moses led them out from the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. [Book of Exodus, chapter 19].

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5 years ago

Ian… I enjoyed your blog on the monsoon season in NM. Hope we have some good rains this year…not much yet at our house.
Thank God for the huge aquifers He has placed underground around NM or we would be in desperate shape for our necessary water.

5 years ago

Thanks again for an interesting and informative blog post, also your photos. I remember very well the New Mexico monsoons. An enjoyable and important time of the year. I was looking at my bicycle rain gear just last week, and reminisced riding during the New Mexico monsoons.

Karen A Larre
Karen A Larre
5 years ago

Great blog, Ian! Thanks for sharing 🙂

Barbara Leachman
Barbara Leachman
5 years ago

Hope this is a good monsoon year. Only problem is the humidity, which we don’t usually have.
But it’s only for about a month so we can handle it!

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