Reflecting on New Mexican Monsoons

This is the fourth summer that Amy and I have lived here in Tijeras, New Mexico, my fourth dealing with the annual monsoon.

Well, actually for our first year, there was no dealing; there was no monsoon. Year two was looking the same way, until September produced a lot of rain. Last year monsoon acted like it’s s’posed to, breaking the blistering heat of May and June with weeks of mostly gentle rains, through much of July and August, usually in the late afternoon or overnight.

This year, it looked like monsoon might be a no show again. Aside from one huge snowstorm just before New Years Day, New Mexico’s 2016 weather had gone bone dry.

We did have our fourth straight “late freeze” that pinched the blossoms and eliminated any fruition for our nectarine trees, but almost no snow in the winter, almost no rain in the spring and summer.

July was hotter than hot. And dry. Records were set by temps in the high 90s day after day in Albuquerque and the low 90s at Ranchito Louie in the Sandia foothills. But August has brought monsoon.

Monsoon is not days of rain, or even rainy days. Monsoon in New Mexico is days with rain in them. Sometimes the rain is violent; lightning flashes, thunder claps. But not for long. Rarely is rain here sustained beyond 20 minutes. But during Monsoon, five to 20 minute drizzles, showers and even the odd storm could happen four or five times in a day.

Days of heavier than usual cloud cover heralded monsoon’s arrival. Then the days were filled with moving stripes of dark cloud and bright sun, and some of the dark clouds had rain, and sometimes several waves of clouds could ward off the sun for a whole morning or afternoon. And we’d get gently soaked.

It’s been perfect. Lots of small squalls, fun to track as they move across the high Sandia Crest and spill over ridge after ridge on their way to us.

The ground has been nourished, the plants are all bursting with restored greenness and pride, and no rain or series of rains has brought anything close to mud.

And I get to feel in tune with my local weather.

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