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Monsoons may bring relief to the drought-ridden Southwest

Cumulonimbus clouds over houses in New Mexico.
John Fowler

Even in the middle of a historic drought, summer rains are on track for their third strong year in a row. The North American Monsoon is an annual surge in rainfall. This year … a strong start has already helped suppress a busy wildfire season in Arizona and New Mexico. Forecasts show that it will likely stay strong … with average amounts of rain in Colorado, Utah and Nevada, and above average totals in Arizona and New Mexico.

Summer rains are important for agriculture, wildlife habitat, and reducing the risk of fire. But they can’t do much to turn around a two-decade drought straining the Colorado River.