By Felicia Fonseca
Across the Southwest, people are longing for seasonal rainstorms like a lost summer romance.
They’re declaring their love online for the weather pattern that makes the scorching heat somewhat bearable in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas, and helps snuff out wildfires. They’re peering out their windows for signs of storm clouds rolling in and calling sprinkles of rain a tease.
“I miss it,” Flagstaff, Arizona, teacher Diane Immethun said wistfully. “I miss the joy of it, the feeling of the rain at night sometimes, not always, just hearing it on the roof, and the thunder and lightning in beautiful skies, gorgeous sunsets.”
The monsoon season, characterized by a shift in wind patterns and moisture being pulled in from the tropical coast of Mexico, arrives like clockwork in mid-June and runs through September. Usually it means rain but not much has fallen this summer and the Southwest is parched.
The Flagstaff airport usually logs nearly 5.5 inches of rain by now has only seen one-fifth of that — the driest in 120 years. Las Vegas has barely recorded any rain. The city of St. George, Utah, had zero rain in July and August — far from the average 1.25 inches (2.75 cm).
The dryness stretching across the Four Corners region has hydrologists worried, although many places are still above-normal for precipitation because of a wet winter.
“I’ve heard the joke calling it the ‘nonsoon’ and that’s really what we’re seeing,” said Royce Fontenot, a senior hydrologist with the weather service in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
But people are not giving up hope.
Forecasters say some relief could come this week. The flirting started Tuesday as clouds began to build and thunder rumbled over some spots.
Meris Carmichael wants to lure the rain to Arizona in a tongue-and-cheek way. She has been encouraging people to wash their cars — a perverse weather promise to ruin a shiny auto exterior with muddy raindrops. She also suggests scheduling an outdoor gathering because Murphy’s Law has been known to bring inclement weather at the worst possible time. She’s even hoping some call on the powers of the legendary vortexes in Sedona.
“All those things guarantee it’s going to rain,” Carmichael quipped.
The experts are offering their assurances too.
“It’s not unheard of to have a wetter September, so it’s certainly possible,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jaret Rogers.