Fluke storm saves September from drought

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By Scot Johnson

Normally, it is early September when monsoon moisture diminishes in Los Alamos.
And, as a rule of thumb, 2 inches of precipitation can be expected during September, splitting the difference between 3 inches during each of July and August and 1 inch during every other month.
This year, however, the monsoon ended with the closing of August.
A normally moist September threatened to go into the books as unusually dry until a tropical storm kicked moisture to the north on Sept. 22.
This moisture teamed up with a well-timed pressure trough from the west to dump rain across New Mexico last Wednesday.
Aside from that day of drenching, there was almost no rain during the month in Los Alamos County.  Precipitation events on the Sept. 8 and the Sept. 14 were consistent with a continuing monsoon pattern, but were barely enough to moisten the ground.
Thanks to the fluke event of Sept. 22, the month’s precipitation total was 1.32 inches in Los Alamos, two-thirds of the normal 2 inches. All but 0.04 inches came during that storm. In White Rock, the total was 0.78 inches, a little over half the normal 1.52 inches there. The annual total in Los Alamos is right on track with 15.5 inches thus far. White Rock remains an inch ahead of schedule at nearly 12 inches.

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