May 14, 2009

Florida monsoons?

Mention of the term “monsoon” brings two thoughts to mind:

India and lots of rain.

Florida rains are not monsoonal, although occasionally in casual conversation – maybe once a blue moon – you hear them misstated that way.

Where you won’t hear the term “monsoons” is on a televised meteorology report, in the newspaper, or – to my knowledge – in any of my Florida weather textbooks … not even for the sake of debunking its misuse.

And I mean anywhere:

I’ve combed through every index I can lay my hands on.

That makes this a “case-closed, door-shut, pound-the-gavel” verdict:

Monsoons don’t exist in Florida.

Not so fast.

The problem is that while I have a vague recollection in the back of my mind of reading a newspaper article that laid the misconception of the enigmatic Florida monsoon to rest,

I can’t quite recall its specifics,

or even find proof the article existed (perhaps I was dreaming):

It was in the pre-internet age.

That makes this a hydrologic version of the eternal expedition to find Bigfoot, or the noble quest for the long lost Ivorybill –

Not finding either doesn’t prove they don't exist,

Rather, maybe we’re just not looking hard enough … or have our heads turned in the wrong places.

What would be my proof of non-existence?

I need to see it in writing, in an officially sanctioned textbook (one that I will most definitely buy), something along the lines of … “Florida’s wet season technically does not qualify as monsoonal rains.”

That will be my proof that Florida monsoons do not exist.

But I have my hopes set high:

I have a hunch that this is a hydrologic Bigfoot I may very well find.


George said...

I guess I'll have to be more careful with what I call a monsoon.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Hi Bob, I have always STRETCHED a story..Kinda like the big fish story. I caught a fish that was 2 feet long..... Right???!!!!! It was probably 1 foot or less!!!! BUT--it's fun to STRETCH that story.... That's why, to me, a BIG rain can be a monsoon!!!! Ya think????? ha


The Birdlady said...

Can't be so- they even exist in Virginia!!!

RA said...

Monsoon also reminds me of India. I never have heard of it as meteorological term until now. Have a great weekend :)

Arkansas Patti said...

Just over the horizon--what is that, could it be---? I say, keep looking.

Lynda said...

Something wrong with this picture! A humid,climate like Florida with its sheets of rain in the summer has no actual monsoon activity? Just doesn't sound right to me!

In the summer, I live in the mountains of Colorado. Dry, arid climate. Sparse vegetation. A rugged, rocky, thirsty land where humidity is often around 20% But we DO have an official monsoon rain season there. It is eagerly awaited every summer. The moisture flows up from Mexico, through the desert SW and into Colorado, and is an important part of the water cycle there.

But when I first heard Coloradoans talking about when the monsoon rains might start, I thought they were kidding!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Rob: I wish you the best on your hunt for the hidden moonson, it could be just around the next sunrise.

Unknown said...

Thanks for your comments.

The best part is always in searching. Who needs an answer when the question is so enticing. Not to fear -- there is an answer, I'll post it next week ... although I'm still not sure exactly how right it is. Even the experts I spoke to seemed a bit non definitive. That only intrigued me more.

Jay said...

According to Wikipedia, there are two definitions for monsoons. One is that they are seasonal prevailing winds. It seems to me that you can prove or disprove the existence of a monsoon in Florida by analyzing prevailing wind data.

The other is that a region can have a monsoon if it receives the majority of its rain in one particular season. In Florida, it is always seems to be raining. Maybe you can claim that, by this definition, Florida has a permanent monsoon!

Here in Arizona, we have a real monsoon (by both definitions). The prevailing winds start coming from the south, bring in moisture that triggers summer thunderstorms. This amounts to about half the moisture this area receives.

Some of us also call the most spectacular of these thunderstorms "monsoons", even though we're not supposed to :-)

The NWS used to declare the start of the monsoon based on three days of dew points averaging at least 55 deg F, but they changed it to set dates, starting June 15th and ending on September 30th.


Unknown said...

Thanks for that information Jay -- it was very informative.

h said...

Monsoons have nothing to do with rain and Florida does not have them.

Monsoons are dramatic seasonal changes in WINDS not rain.

The "Santa Anna" winds in Cali qualify as Monsoonal and they are usually very dry. As are the Monsoonal Winds in Northern New Mexico and Arizona.

WIND not rain!

Jay said...

Mr. Troll -- If you don't like that wikipedia definition of monsoons includes rainy seasons, you can always edit it :-) You would be doing many high school students a favor.

And I'm not sure about the Santa Ana winds do they last long enough to qualify as "seasonal"?