Wildfire and Monsoon Rain

September 18, 2004


Provided by: Thomas McGuire
Summary author: Thomas McGuire

Arizona monsoon rains are know for being erratic. This storm quickly dumped about half an inch of rain at our home in Cave Creek (from where the picture was taken), and an unknown amount of rain in the burst on the right side of the image, while a few miles up the road, no rain fell at all.

The “New” (River) Fire that's producing the smoke seen on the left was started by lightning about 24 hours before the above photo was taken. Still out of control in a remote and uninhabited area, the Forest Service was using “hot shot crews” and slurry drops to contain the fire. This is one of 26 fires we've had this summer in the nearby National Forest. The Willow Fire (EPOD for July 3, 2004) burned over 100 square miles (160 sq km), and a more recent fire burned right up the to fire tower from which the July 3 EPOD photo was taken. The National Forest Service is caught between allowing fires to burn the tinder of many years of unnatural fire suppression and a policy of protecting structures and residences from the wrath of nature. Even their control fires to burn off excess fuel in the forests have met with unintended consequences.

Thus far, we’ve had a total of just an inch (2.54 cm) of rain in this summer monsoon season. Unlike our more steady winter rainfall, monsoon rains are known for being intense but localize and short lived. Climatologists are trying to put our current seven year drought into historical perspective.

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