Have you ever noticed that the longer you live somewhere, the fewer pictures you take of it? John and I have been in Tucson since 1986, and the vast majority of our pictures of the place were taken from 1986-1990. These days, most of our pictures are taken by digital camera, someplace else.
I went looking for more pictures of dramatic weather in Tucson, but the notebooks are in the bedroom and John's asleep. I sneaked in (snuck?) and got a couple of neat pictures, though, to illustrate further explanations about the Tucson monsoon and the season that immediately precedes the summer monsoon: fire season.
The two pictures here are of a particularly bad fire on Mount Lemmon, circa 1988-1990. Mount Lemmon is part of the Catalina Mountains, which form the northern boundary of Tucson. If you think this fire is dramatic, let me tell you: the one in June and July, 2003 was much worse. It wasn't as visible from the city, but it did much more damage on the mountain, and ruined Tucson's air quality for weeks.
Now it's fire season again, and there are restrictions on campfires and smoking in National Forest lands all over Arizona. Most of the worst fires in recent years, including the one that destroyed most of Summerhaven on Mount Lemmon, were caused by humans. At the moment, though, the fires around the state mostly seem to be caused by lightning--lightning, but no rain. Remember, it's a dry heat.
It's been clouding up, though, and I found more evidence of minimal overnight rain on my windshield this morning. So now we've got both heat (high 90s to low 100s) and humidity--not at Houston levels, but more than the 11% humidity we get in April and May.
There's a formula the weather people use to tell us whether the monsoon has arrived, involving so many days of a certain dewpoint level, or something like that. We don't really need to know the details. It's pretty clear to everyone in Tucson that the monsoon has not yet arrived. And I've lost track of whether it's supposed to be El Niño or La Niña or neither this time around. I never could keep those straight, anyway.
In a previous entry I mentioned arroyos, those dry washes that channel muddy, fast-moving water during and immediately after a big rain. Here's one of them, next to our old house on Grannen Road. I used to call it 'Cassional Creek. The dog who's checking it out is either a neighbor dog, Cheyenne, or Kirby, who belonged to John's business partner, Walt.
To finish things off for now, here's a rainbow over the desert, just off Grannen Road.
I'll save the pictures of Tucson's only recorded White Christmas for another time.
National Weather Service - Tucson Monsoon page