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Las Vegas Monsoon Season!

Blogs, Blogging, and Podcasts, Las Vegas, Nevada, Weather
Posted July 15th, 2008 by Christopher - 3 comments

When most people hear the phrase “monsoon season” they think of the famously rainy monsoons of India that they learned about in school. What’s really odd to me is how they always teach about “monsoons” in the context of some very foreign place to North America – there are monsoonal weather patterns every single year right here in the Southwest to learn about. I know that kids can “get” an illustration of a concept by examples of extremes – and it definitely rains like crazy in India during monsoon season, oftentimes causing flooding, et cetera – but those conditions, while perhaps not as widespread and extreme, occur right here in Las Vegas, Nevada, and much of the desert southwest.

So what is a monsoon, you ask? It’s really just a seasonal prevailing wind that lasts several months that’s different from the normal prevailing winds. Generally in North America winds blow from west to east, of course. When the summer months heat up, usually around the middle to the end of July, the winds start to blow southeast to northwest or south to north. It’s not like a rule and things do vary, but the point is that the prevailing winds change direction. Since that change brings with it moisture coming from the general direction of the Gulf of Mexico, you get these storm clouds that build up and seem somehow out of context of what people think of the hot summer desert should look like in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Our monsoon season kicked off last Thursday and every day since then, pretty much, we’ve been having these awesome clouds, some sprinkles, and flash flood advisories in some areas. Some people hate it, but one of the things I personally miss about living in Texas where I grew up, are those bad ass thunderclouds and rainstorms. I’ve always found them to be very relaxing, very reassuring somehow. So monsoons in Las Vegas are completely welcome as far as I am concerned!

One of the most beautiful things about the weather in Las Vegas happens during monsoon season: virga. Virga is this almost magical looking rain effect that happens in the hot summer months where rain falls out of a cloud in streaks, but due to the dryness and heat of the air, it evaporates only part of the way down… It looks amazing. (I haven’t gotten any photos of virga yet this summer because monsoon season just started but I will get some as soon as a I can and post them here.)

Now, see there? Who said you never learn anything online anymore? The internet is for education! (and porn.)

Below is a photo that you need to click through to to check out. It’s a panoramic photograph of a Las Vegas monsoonal rain cloud coming from the south into the Las Vegas Valley. It was taken sort of at random not too far away from my townhouse in near-southwest Las Vegas…. on Robindale near Sierra Vista High School. Enjoy!

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  1. Las Vegas Explorer Pass on July 21, 2008 :

    I agree, with the weather patterns being so strange lately you don’t even have to look far to see those exotic weather patterns anymore.

  2. ooo on December 6, 2008 :

    really useful information there :)

  3. lea on October 22, 2009 :

    Thanks. really helped me with my 7th grad homework.