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Dennis’ Tidbits 

By DENNIS McTIGHE

June 21, 2019

Summer officially begins and we’re still looking for the rays

Dennis 5At 8:54 a.m. here on Friday, summer officially begins, although it won’t feel much like summer to kick things off. Temps today will be running 5-7 degrees below normal for June 21st. Normal hi-lo for today’s date is 74-61.

Today marks maximum sun time with a total of 14 hours and 26 minutes, with sunrise occurring at 5:42 a.m. and sunset at 8:08 p.m. at our latitude. The farther north you go, the more potential sun time, weather permitting. Up in the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets. Of course, the Southern Hemisphere will have the least amount of sun time and areas around the South Pole will have total darkness.

The Eastern Pacific Tropics remain dormant with no development of tropical systems for the foreseeable future, which is kind of weird for the last third of June. Normally by now, there would have been at least two or three spinners or more. In 2012 there were already four named storms by the first day of summer.

We do have a mild El Nino in the water, and when that phenomenon is going on, there is more frequent formation of tropical systems that form down in the Tropical Convergence Zone from Latitude 12-18 degrees north.

In about a week to ten days, the climate in the Desert Southwest will change dramatically from dry and hot with minimal rain to humidity readings suddenly jumping up to 30 percent during the afternoons most days from about June 28 to mid-September. The monsoon season’s arrival time from year to year is a sure bet to start as early as June 28th or so but never later than July 5th. Warm, moist, unstable air suddenly flows to the northwest and north from the Tropics into Southeastern California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. 

These areas collect about two-thirds of their annual rainfall in just ten or eleven weeks. Strong to sometimes severe thunderstorms break out on an average of 50-55 days during that period. Flash flooding is a sure thing during that monsoon period. One August I was near Tucson, Ariz. when a super cell thunderstorm invaded the area with lightning every twenty seconds for two straight hours; the cell was nearly stationary when out popped a microburst with an inch of rain in ten minutes! Normally a microburst will only last maybe 20 minutes, but it looked like this giant cloud just dropped out of the sky with winds up to 65 mph with enough hail to totally cover the ground in white in just a matter of about 15 minutes. 

Las Vegas only averages about four inches of rain in a whole year but they got their whole year’s supply in one afternoon back in August of 2013 with several funnel clouds sighted that day. 

Heck, those violent storms with all their enormous power are what got me into weather at the tender age of four when I saw my very first intense thunderstorm at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim in early August of 1951. The beauty of that storm made my mind up right then and there – that I would have a strong passion for severe weather. That passion remains 67 years later and will never go away as long as I’m around. 

Here in our mountains and deserts, we also get in on the action with up to 30 days of thunder in a busy year like 2012 and 2013. A few have been known to drift to the west giving Laguna a good light show.

Have a great weekend, ALOHA!