89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2009: 5:15 PM
Educating the Public on the North American Monsoon System
Room 125B (Phoenix Convention Center)
Glen W. Sampson, NOAA/NWS, Tucson, AZ; and E. S. Pytlak
Poster PDF (624.5 kB)
In Arizona and much of the Southwest, the North American Monsoon is the weather event of the year. Weather conditions change from sunny, hot and dry to thunderstorms, moist and wet. Life begins anew as the desert awakens from heat stress with rain and cool downdrafts. Additionally these storms can quickly change from pleasant to destructive with strong winds, large hail, frequent lightning and flash floods.

Historically the “start of the monsoon” was correlated to three consecutive days of high dew point temperatures. While this criterion indicated surface moisture was present, important features and details of the North American Monsoon System (NAMS) were ignored. As research has expanded our knowledge of the NAMS, much of this information was obscured by the culture surrounding dew point values. To change this situation a multi-faceted approach is being taken: (1) establishing a monsoon season with set dates, (2) expanding the lay person's ability to track the monsoon through more than dew point values, (3) bridging the knowledge gap between the research community and the general public by summarizing the current scientific understanding of the NAMS on public web pages, and (4) reaching out to the local television meteorologists with these concepts. This effort was started in 2000 in southeast Arizona with a major push throughout the remainder of Arizona in 2008. The ultimate goal is for everyone in the Southwest to have a better understanding of the monsoon which will ultimately help protect people from hazardous weather.

Supplementary URL: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/twc/monsoon/monsoon_tracker.php