The monsoons are on the way…

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Or are they?

There are forecasters in the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office who have never seen a really juicy monsoon.

You know the kind— towering late-afternoon knots of summertime purple over the mountains that roll down and cleanse the Rio Grande Valley, day after day.

The last time summer gave us that kind of blessing was 1999.
Sitting around a table Friday morning with some of those young forecasters and a group of Albuquerque television meteorologists, local Weather Service chief Charlie Liles tried his best to answer the question on everyone’s mind: Will our luck finally turn this year?

Liles’ best bottom line: There’s no way to tell.

I read this story in the ABQ Journal this weekend, and Friday spoke with its author, John Fleck, via IM concerning the findings. Interesting stuff, in that forecasting the “regular” summer monsoons is becoming more difficult because of climate variability:

Wolter thinks conditions are now very much like those in that blessedly wet summer of 1999. Six inches of rain fell in the middle Rio Grande Valley that July and August, the second-wettest monsoon in recorded history.

Gutzler is quick to point, though, to the flip side— the way the usual patterns break down during the sort of long-term drought we’re now suffering through. The last time this happened, in the 1950s, the summer rains failed repeatedly.

“That’s what makes this summer incredibly difficult to say anything about with certainty,” Gutzler said.

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