The Mexican Monsoon

Michael W. Douglas NOAA/Environmental Research Laboratories, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Robert A. Maddox NOAA/Environmental Research Laboratories, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Kenneth Howard NOAA/Environmental Research Laboratories, National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Sergio Reyes Centro de Investigaciones Cientificas y Educacion Superior de Ensenada (CICESE), Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico

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Abstract

The pronounced maximum in rainfall during the warm season over southwestern North America has been noted by various investigators. In the United States this is most pronounced over New Mexico and southern Arizona; however, it is but an extension of a much larger-scale phenomenon that appears to be centered over northwestern Mexico. This phenomenon, herein termed the “Mexican monsoon,” is described from analyses of monthly mean rainfall, geostationary satellite imagery, and rawinsonde data. In particular, the authors note the geographical extent and magnitude of the summer rains, the rapidity of their onset, and the timing of the month of maximum rainfall. Finally, the difficulty in explaining the observed precipitation distribution and its timing from monthly mean upper-air wind and moisture patterns is discussed.

Abstract

The pronounced maximum in rainfall during the warm season over southwestern North America has been noted by various investigators. In the United States this is most pronounced over New Mexico and southern Arizona; however, it is but an extension of a much larger-scale phenomenon that appears to be centered over northwestern Mexico. This phenomenon, herein termed the “Mexican monsoon,” is described from analyses of monthly mean rainfall, geostationary satellite imagery, and rawinsonde data. In particular, the authors note the geographical extent and magnitude of the summer rains, the rapidity of their onset, and the timing of the month of maximum rainfall. Finally, the difficulty in explaining the observed precipitation distribution and its timing from monthly mean upper-air wind and moisture patterns is discussed.

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