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Why did we have so many overnight storms during monsoon this year?

Posted at 5:33 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 08:13:54-04

RELATED: Gallery of monsoon 2021 photos by KGUN staff and viewers

A few rumbling nocturnal storms come with just about any monsoon, but 2021 seems to have had more rude awakenings than most.

“The afternoon heat brings us convection, unstable air, and then the moisture so once we have those three things that’s why we typically build our storms in the afternoon,” said GMT Meteorologist April Madison.

Madison says the morning crew has had a blast covering this monsoon, but it has been a challenge getting sleep between shifts. “That was probably the toughest part of it, was maintaining the hours and figuring out when to sleep or not sleep.”

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This monsoon is already the third wettest on record with nearly 12 inches of rain at the Tucson airport, and about a quarter of that (about 3 inches) fell in the hours between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The big reason for more nocturnal storms this monsoon is disturbances we have had and the fact that some of them lingered over us. That energy supplied the lift we needed for overnight storms.

Nocturnal storms can also lead to more nocturnal storms. Overnight and morning rains can often mean a cloudy day which holds back convection until later in the afternoon and that can trigger more storms later into the evening.

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“You can kind of get that repeating itself a little bit,” said National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Ken Drozd.

Nocturnal storms can be especially dangerous when driving at night. “Maybe a tree or tree limb or power lines down, you might not see that until you come up upon it quickly at night because you can only see the distance your headlights allow you to,” he said.

Madison says she is ready for more rain, but she just hopes the next rounds fall a little quieter.

“Wouldn't that be nice,” she said. If it were just a nice steady sleepy type of rain we could all sleep through?