Monsoonal Rains Providing Southwest Drought Relief
10:30 PM PDT, August 3, 2014
UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Andrew Rosenthal
The Summer Monsoon will be fully powered up today, this time focusing its moisture across the Southwest from southern California across Nevada and into southern Utah. The scattered rain showers have been slow-moving enough to cause flash flooding, particularly in areas scarred from wildfire.
Pacific moisture is being lifted northward across the Colorado Valley, enhanced by a series of low pressures in place across the California desert and southeastern Nevada. The combination of the moisture and disturbances is help to create showers and thunderstorms that are pushing across the Southwest and Great Basin.
The rain will generally remain on the light side across California, where less than a quarter inch may fall near San Diego and Los Angeles. However, even this will be a welcomed sight, given the extreme drought ongoing in the region. Localized spots, particularly across the mountains, could pick up half an inch or more.
The focus for the heavy rain will be a bit further north along the Interstate 15 corridor, including Las Vegas, and St. George, Utah. Here, rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches are possible. Similar to California, the region is in a long-term drought, which this will help mitigate just a little.
The downside to the heavy rain is that it is unlikely to soak into the ground in the wildfire burn-scarred areas, causing mudslides and the threat for flash flooding across normally dry washes.
Flash Flood Watches are in effect from southern California to southern Idaho, including Barstow, Calif., Las Vegas, St. George, Utah, Salt Lake City, and Moab National Park, Utah. If you come across water in the road, do not attempt to cross it. It is better to "Turn Around, Don`t Drown!"
The rain started in earnest across southern California on Saturday, interrupting the Tour de Big Bear northeast of Los Angeles in the morning. A dust storm along Interstate 40 caused a 14-car pileup, injuring nine people. Meanwhile, players and spectators at Saturday night`s Los Angeles Dodgers game were forced to dodge raindrops for the latter half of the game.
A convoy of vehicles heading to a conference in Forest Falls, Calif., was trapped in a debris flow from flash flooding today. Storms also caused flash flooding in the Las Vegas area.
While summer monsoons aren`t unusual in the Southwest, widespread rainfall in some of these spots are quite rare. Los Angeles averages 0.04 inches of rain for the month of August, while Las Vegas sees about one-third of an inch this month.
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