6/22/05 REPORTS: Desert Southwest

Status
Not open for further replies.
June 22, 2005 - 10:30pm - armed with camera and film, I headed out for a late night CG lightshow that impacted pockets of Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, and other counties around Phoenix, Tucson, Payson, Casa Grande and the Central Deserts lastnight. Is this Monsoon? No, not yet. Technically, the North American Monsoon that impacts Arizona doesn't officially start until the dewpoint has reached 55 degrees F or higher, for 3 consecutive days.

Even though these thunderstorms were not Monsoon powered nor heavy with rain, they sure put on a lightshow. I burned many rolls of film (pictures to come later) until about 2am from a mountain location.

The good news: many CGs for me, and as time crept into the wee hours of the night, lesser wind to shake my equipment.

The bad news: As I wrapped up my shoot around 2am, I was headed down the mountain and noticed the ridgeline just east of my town was ablaze with yet another lightning-sparked wildfire. It is a small fire compared to the 30,000 acre inferno that is raging NE of the towns of Carefree and Cave Creek, right over the mountains from my town (Fountain Hills). Twenty homes have been taken with the "Cave Creek Complex Fire" and hundreds of homes are evacuated. The hopeful news: The general direction of the fire seems to be NE (fingers crossed, away from structures), but of course fires make their own weather. The pyroCu yesterday looked like a supercell in itself.

I am also concerned for McDowell Mountain Park, a 21,000 acre wildland where I have a photography show running right now in the visitors center. Ironically, my lightning photography show commemorates the 10 year anniversary of the big lightning-sparked Rio Fire that burned part of the Lower Verde Valley in 1995. More on this show: http://www.maricopa.gov/parks/mcdowell/ I am crossing my fingers that the park doesn't take too many CGs, although lightning is highly likely and was very plentiful lastnight. The danger? Winter of '04/'05 was a very heavy rainy season. Brush, particularly the non-native grasses such as fiddleneck, are now waist-high and tinder dry. These grasses were brought in by cattle ranching decades ago, and now cause unwanted fire fuel in the summer. I will be glad when the Monsoon starts, humidities rise, and rain is present with the thunderstorms.

Currently, the thunderstorms are lightning-heavy with little or no precipitation, typical for June. Outflows from collapsing storms can also cause tricky wind shifts that fuel wildland fires. Desert temperatures yesterday reached the one-teens, I think it was about 103 degrees as I finished up my chase at 2am. Amazing night for CGs in the Desert Southwest. I am watching the fire to the east.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Back
Top