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Nature of Arizona monsoon season makes it difficult to predict

(AP File Photo)

PHOENIX – Monsoon season in Arizona is a month away, and there’s no telling what kind of impact it will have, a Phoenix-area scientist said.

“The monsoon is an interesting beast to try to forecast,” Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny said Wednesday to KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The monsoon season officially begins June 15 and runs through Sept. 30, but real storm activity generally doesn’t begin until early July.

Spring weather doesn’t present many clues to the severity of monsoon season, he said.

“Spring could be hot, spring could be cold, could be wet, could be dry. It doesn’t seem to really play a big role in how … the monsoon is actually going to be,” Cerveny said.

Last year’s monsoon destroyed 400 utility poles in the Valley by mid-August. That was almost four times as many in all of 2017.

High winds took out seven large metal transmission towers, towers designed to withstand hurricane blasts of 90-100 mph.

An August storm wiped out three homes and seriously damaged 12 others in Buckeye Valley.

Residents watched 60 mph winds blow down the houses and withstood an hour of torrential rain.

“We even had an early kind of fake start to the monsoon last year,” Cerveny said, “because of a hurricane that was off Mexico that curved up into Arizona.”

Hurricane Bud’s heavy rainfall caused flash flooding in the Southwest and put flash flood alerts into effect in Arizona last June.

Something similar could happen this year, too, Cerveny said.

“We might get an odd storm coming up here in June.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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