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Old 07-23-2007, 12:50 AM
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
6,721 posts, read 9,828,858 times
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Mid July to mid September is the season that is commonly referred to as the summer monsoon in the Southwestern U.S. It mainly affects Arizona and New Mexico, but also has some impact on Nevada, Utah, Colorado, west Texas, and southern California.

Many people who are unfamiliar with the term "monsoon" often think of it as a rainstorm or thunderstorm. Not true! The definition of a monsoon is a seasonal wind shift. In Arizona, the prevaling wind direction is west to east during most of the year. But in July, the direction of the prevaling wind shifts to an easterly or southerly flow ... and this allows some moisture from Mexico to move into the region. Combine the intense daytime heating with the increased humidity, and convective type of storms develop over the higher terrain.

The monsoon is also NOT the chief precipitation season in Arizona either. In Phoenix, more rain falls during the winter months of December thorugh March on average than the summer "monsoon" months. The difference is that winter rains are often more wide spread & moderate in nature ... while summer storms are often fast & harsh, and can produce heavy downpours that last only a few minutes.

So next time you hear the word "monsoon", think of it as a wind shift only ... not as a rainy season or an individual storm.
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Old 07-23-2007, 02:49 AM
 
Location: A suburb of Vancouver, BC, Canada
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In Tucson and El Paso I think they get most of their rains from the monsoon. Also, I have heard that the urban island heating effect in Phoenix is making the Valley even hotter and drier than it used to be! Is this true, I have heard about it, but not sure if it is even true in the slightest. Anyways, if you were to live in any of these five cities in the SW, which would it be climate wise? Albuquerque, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, or Las Vegas?
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Old 07-23-2007, 07:53 AM
 
19 posts, read 33,931 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
In Tucson and El Paso I think they get most of their rains from the monsoon. Also, I have heard that the urban island heating effect in Phoenix is making the Valley even hotter and drier than it used to be! Is this true, I have heard about it, but not sure if it is even true in the slightest. Anyways, if you were to live in any of these five cities in the SW, which would it be climate wise? Albuquerque, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, or Las Vegas?
Albuquerque gets, by far, the most comfortable summer temperatures of those five cities.

Yes, the urban heat island effect is warming Phoenix. It can be especially felt at night. The average low for July is 81F. That low hasn't even been reached this whole month. It's always upper 80s/low 90s.

Imagine it not going below 100 at night
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:17 PM
 
Location: Metro Milwaukee, WI
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
Anyways, if you were to live in any of these five cities in the SW, which would it be climate wise? Albuquerque, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, or Las Vegas?
EL PASO.

I believe that El Paso has the best year-round climate in the U.S. It is incredibly nice.

Here is how I would rate the weather - year-round climates - between these five cities:

1) El Paso [perfect]
2) Tucson [summers a little too hot, but otherwise perfect weather]
3) Albuquerque [winters a little too cold, but otherwise perfect weather]
4) Las Vegas [summers too hot and too long, but better than Phoenix]
5) Phoenix [summers way too hot and way too long]
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Old 07-23-2007, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Southern Arizona
9,507 posts, read 28,359,799 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
In Tucson and El Paso I think they get most of their rains from the monsoon. Also, I have heard that the urban island heating effect in Phoenix is making the Valley even hotter and drier than it used to be! Is this true, I have heard about it, but not sure if it is even true in the slightest. Anyways, if you were to live in any of these five cities in the SW, which would it be climate wise? Albuquerque, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, or Las Vegas?
Tucson gets my #1 vote, Ken

Albuquerque is too hot and humid during the Summer as well as too cold in the Winter.

El Paso is a close #2 but still too hot and humid in the Summer.

Phoenix and Las Vegas are just too hot and because of their size, the temperature doesn't drop much at night.

MY TWO CENTS WORTH . . .
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Old 07-23-2007, 09:50 PM
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
In Tucson and El Paso I think they get most of their rains from the monsoon.
Actually, I was mainly referring to the Phoenix area in terms of the monsoon effect ... but you're right. Because the monsoon flow is most predominant in eastern AZ and New Mexico, Tucson, El Paso, and Albuquerque receive more rain in the summer. Albuquerque & most of New Mexico also receive a much earlier start to what we know as the summer monsoon. They have convective thunderstorms as soon as May sometimes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
Also, I have heard that the urban island heating effect in Phoenix is making the Valley even hotter and drier than it used to be! Is this true, I have heard about it, but not sure if it is even true in the slightest.
Unfortunately, it's all too true. Summer evenings used to be quite pleasant many years ago ... especially in June because of the dry air. Now, most low temperatures seldom drop below 90 degrees on a typical summer morning. It's attributed to all the concrete & asphalt, and the never ending urban sprawl. That also tends to have an effect on summer storms. We can see the thunderheads build up over the mountains to the east, and sometimes they can look very promising. However, once they reach the urban heat island, they often fizzle out ... leaving us with just the residual wind & dust.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
Anyways, if you were to live in any of these five cities in the SW, which would it be climate wise? Albuquerque, El Paso, Tucson, Phoenix, or Las Vegas?
Well, if you're referring to which place has the best climate, I'd say none of the above. San Diego has the best climate in the nation as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 07-23-2007, 10:53 PM
 
Location: A suburb of Vancouver, BC, Canada
172 posts, read 576,121 times
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Originally Posted by Valley Native View Post
Well, if you're referring to which place has the best climate, I'd say none of the above. San Diego has the best climate in the nation as far as I'm concerned.
I agree 100% with that. Of those five I listed I have only been to Las Vegas, so my opinion is based on averages, but I think EnjoyEP's list is the one I would agree with the most. I have a question regarding the urban island heating affect in Phoenix, are there any areas in the Valley that get into the 70's at night on average in the summer today? Like say Cave Creek or Buckeye? Or do those places stay in the 80's as well? Also, considering the weather from mid October through early May seems near perfect, is it worth the trade off of the dooms day like summers? I live up in Pacific Northwest (Vancouver, BC area) and it does seem worth the trade off (get away from all the clouds and dreary weather for half of the year)
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:33 AM
 
Location: East Central Phoenix
6,721 posts, read 9,828,858 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
I have a question regarding the urban island heating affect in Phoenix, are there any areas in the Valley that get into the 70's at night on average in the summer today? Like say Cave Creek or Buckeye? Or do those places stay in the 80's as well?
The "outlying" areas of the Valley still cool off much faster at night than the more established suburban or urban areas ... but of course, the way our metro area sprawls, it won't be long before those outlying areas become urbanized with warmer temps.

However, Cave Creek and Carefree are two towns that have managed to stay relatively small and resistant to the rapid growth. Combine that with the higher elevation, those places still cool off very nicely after sunset, even during the hottest months (July & August).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ken.k-la View Post
Also, considering the weather from mid October through early May seems near perfect, is it worth the trade off of the dooms day like summers? I live up in Pacific Northwest (Vancouver, BC area) and it does seem worth the trade off (get away from all the clouds and dreary weather for half of the year)
Having lived in the Valley all my life, I can honestly say that the climate here isn't the best aspect about this area ... not in my opinion anyway. For me, it wouldn't be worth the trade off. There are many positives about Phoenix and Arizona, but our seemingly endless sunny days & blast furnace summer heat are just not among them. It becomes very monotonous ... probably as much as the cloudy, drizzly days of the Pacific NW.
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Old 07-24-2007, 01:38 AM
 
Location: A suburb of Vancouver, BC, Canada
172 posts, read 576,121 times
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I see, is the median price of housing much less out in Buckeye or up in Cave Creek? On Google Earth the drive time from Cave Creek to downtown Phoenix is 45 minutes, but I am assuming that is wrong, how long would it really take? So Cave Creeks climate is comprable to say Tucson?
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Old 08-03-2007, 04:58 PM
 
Location: Utah
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Thanks for the monsoonal education. I always thought the meteorologists were referring to the rain/moisture and not the winds. We get monsoonal moisture here in Utah. Southern Utah has been experiencing flooding because of it. I wish more would make its way north.
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