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ASU professor expects slow start to monsoon season

(File KTAR News photo)

PHOENIX – This monsoon season can’t be worse than 2020.

After the driest monsoon season in Arizona’s history, ASU professor of geographical sciences Randy Cerveny is hopeful the state will see more rain this year.

Despite the monsoon season’s calendar start date on Tuesday, it’s going to take time for it to take effect.

Cerveny doesn’t expect to see rain until the first or second week of July, if the state is going to get any.

“We won’t expect to see moisture, we won’t expect to see thunderstorms, even dust storms really coming into the Valley until we get into July,” Cerveny told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

On Monday, Cerveny monitored storms in Mexico. He will remain focused on any moisture that could start in the gulf coast that could make its way up north.

In the meantime, he is worried about the excessive heat and the other precursors of monsoon season, like dust storms with strong wind and lightning.

“People need to be very, very aware that the risk for wildfires, particularly with the very hot temperatures that fuel change in airflow so that we can get the moisture coming up from Mexico,” Cerveny said. “That is fueled by very hot temperatures.”

Currently, there are three ongoing wildfires that have consumed more than 160,000 acres and led to evacuations and road closures in central and northern Arizona.

Cerveny is worried about how dry the state is ahead of any monsoon rains this season after little to no rain fell last year.

“The next couple weeks are going to be a nightmare in terms of hopefully not having big fires here,” Cerveny said.

The monsoon season ends in September.

Although it is difficult to predict, Cerveny expects a slow start to the monsoon season with rain expected near the end of July.

He joked that this year’s monsoon season could not be worse than last year that had an average of just 1.51 inches of rainfall across the state.

According to the National Weather Service, most of Arizona received near or less than 30% of average seasonal rainfall.

Flagstaff recorded its driest season, receiving 1.78 inches of rain, and Tucson recorded its second driest with 1.62 inches.

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