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Monsoon Moisture – Our Summer Weather Study

Monsoon moisture July 2012
I captured this image of the clouds at sunset last night coming in off the lake. Gorgeous!

Summer in our part of Northern California is HOT and DRY!

But, occasionally we get the weather phenomenon called “monsoon moisture” which really means that the storms come from the Gulf of California and are tropical in nature, reaching up into the mountains of Northern California with moisture and thunderstorms. (That is my very non-technical explanation of monsoon moisture.) We are going to be using this topic as the advanced study portion of the Summer Weather Challenge.

Mr B with rock tufa at Mono Lake
Monsoon Moisture in the eastern Sierra Nevada at Mono Lake 2006

When this happens, we see quite an interesting buffet of weather activity:
1. Scattered afternoon thunderstorms
2. Down pours of rain
3. Gusty high winds
4. Beautiful clouds (especially at sunset)
5. Increased fire danger because of the chance of dry lightning (no rain)

After an monsoon weather event, the air is sticky with warm moist air. The plants and trees are refreshed, the dry leaves swept away, and the air just smells so nice and fresh.

Reflecting windows and blue sky Bodie
Monsoon Moisture – Bodie State Park,  Eastern Sierra Nevada 2006. We got very wet in the rainstorm that came shortly after taking this photo!

We had such an even last night which will give us an account to share as part of the Summer Weather Challenge in the More Nature Study series. It was really hot at bedtime so we decided to sleep out on the back deck under the stars. It started off fairly innocently with a few wisps of clouds slowly moving across the sky blocking out the stars. Then the wind started to gust and the first flashes of lightning came quickly one after the other. The rumble of the thunder was in the distance. No problem my husband said…he thought it was just going to be a dry lightning event where there is no rain associated with the storm.

Boy, was he wrong!

By 11 PM the lightning, thunder, wind, and rain hit with full force. The wind chimes were ringing constantly and we decided we better give up the idea of sleeping outside. This kind of weather is fairly normal for our area in the summer and we have a couple of these storms usually in July or August. What turned this into an unusual event was the length of the storm. We still were having lightning, thunder, wind, and rain until at least 4 AM. It was a restless night for all of us as we kept getting up to peer out the windows and doors at the awesome display of power in this storm.

July bouquet
The garden still had plenty of beautiful flowers for a bouquet this morning.

The power went out for a short time but all in all there was little other inconvenience from the storm. Today the sun rose and warmed the air and made us all feel welcome. The windows were opened and the fans turned on to drive away the humidity a bit.

Right on time for our Summer Weather Challenge!

Here are a few of our other summer weather entries:
Summer Weather 2011 – Can You Say HOT?
Summer Weather Sunrise/Sunset Observations 2010

1 thought on “Monsoon Moisture – Our Summer Weather Study

  1. While I haven’t officially started Nature Study, I stopped outside a store as we left and my 5 year old and I watched a bunch of ants carrying things seemingly too large to carry and trying to break up a very large, dead insect so they could get it into their home! We watched for a good 5-10 minutes and were fascinated by it all.

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