Monsoon storm

The forecast calls for a slight chance of monsoon storms starting this weekend. Along with that comes dry lightning.

Every year Rim Country holds its collective breath until the dry lightning ends and monsoon starts.

By the weekend, rain might fall — or just dry lightning.

This week, a monsoonal weather pattern set up in the Four corners region. Promptly stirring the National Weather Service to issue a lightning warning.

“A chance of high-based showers and thunderstorms over the White Mountains and Mogollon Rim still looks on track for the afternoon and early evening hours,” announced the NWS. “The primary threat with these storms will be dry lightning and gusty outflow winds.”

It’s this period right before the monsoonal downpour that firefighters dread.

Dry lightning during the last week of June 1990, started the 10-day Dude Fire on the Rim that killed six firefighters and burned down the historic Zane Grey Cabin. Since then, lightning has started about 40 significant fires in Arizona.

Starting Wednesday, temperatures in both the Rim Country and Phoenix heated up. Phoenix issued heat warnings as the thermometer topped 112 degrees. The higher elevations of Rim Country pushed up against triple digits.

Monsoon weather is defined as the interplay between the triple-digit heat of Phoenix and cooler air of the Rim that draws the monsoon moisture to Rim Country.

A high pressure over the Four Corners area will pull that monsoon moisture from the Gulfs of Mexico and California to drench the heat with downpours.

But according to NWS meteorologist Emily Thornton, “Chances are around 10-12 percent each afternoon through Sunday with higher chances up along the Mogollon Rim and near the White Mountain Region. Certainly, after a few drier/breezy days this week, lightning would be a concern for fires. However, activity as mentioned at this point looks isolated and scattered with low chances.”

The monsoon is on its way.

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