Tropical Storm Odile

More from this show

The remnants of Hurricane Odile are expected to slam Arizona, just a week after Norbert flooded parts of the state with record rainfall. Nancy Selover, the climatologist for the state of Arizona, will discuss what you might expect.

Ted Simons: Good evening, and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. Another tropical storm will be hitting Arizona, and this one, named Odile, is expected to be another ordeal for a flood-weary state. Here to tell us what we can expect is Nancy Selover, Arizona's state climatologist. Thanks for being here. Compare this storm with Norbert.

Nancy Selover: OK. Norbert, as it moved up the Mexican coast, was moved out away from the coast into the Pacific a bit. This one, Odile, hugged the coast and then moved across the Baja peninsula. So it's lost a little bit of its strength and it's closer to us, so the characteristics of the moisture are a bit different.

Ted Simons: Compare and contrast that, the idea of going out to sea where you get more moisture and maybe the bands would be stronger, going inbound land where it's closer but the bands aren't quite as strong.

Nancy Selover: As it went out to sea, Norbert, the moisture was a huge plume of moisture that was sucked up by some subtropical jet stream that brought it up into Arizona. It got a little bit further North, still kind of held together as a hurricane. So we had a bigger slug of moisture that got farther north into where the Phoenix area is. Odile hugged the coast and as it crossed Baja, it was over land. So it starts to weaken as it goes over land. Plus if you're closer to it, you get rain bands, distinctive bands of moisture and a little dry slot and more moisture. So we're seeing the bands from Odile that we didn't see with Norbert.

Ted Simons: I was going to say, with Norbert it seemed like one big sustained dump, this seems like coming and going, coming and going. Those are the bands.

Nancy Selover: Yes. So far it's coming and going. Once the bulk of it gets into Arizona the big chunk of moisture, certainly for southeastern Arizona it's going to be more of a big slug of moisture.

Ted Simons: As far as interaction with monsoon moisture, compare the two storms.

Nancy Selover: We were closer in toward the monsoon activity when we had Norbert. At this point in time typically we're starting to wind down the monsoon. So there's not necessarily as much moisture. So these things have pretty much brought their own moisture with them. And I'm not sure how much the monsoon has added to that.

Ted Simons: Interesting. OK. As far as the impact to Arizona, compare the two storms.

Nancy Selover: Norbert caught us -- southern Arizona, but it crossed much of the state. But the Phoenix area got caught under this persistent little set of sails that just sat overhead. And it didn't quite get as bad in southeastern Arizona. This one, the moisture has gotten sheered off earlier -- It didn't get as far north before it started to pull east. So we're expecting most of the moisture, most of the heavy precipitation to be in southeastern -- About the southeastern third of the state. And up in the white mountains, Tucson area, all those areas. And somewhere in there at Pinal County, between Maricopa County and Pima county is going to be -- It's kind of between being really strong and not quite so strong. So we should not be too bad here in Maricopa County.

Ted Simons: And that's basically because prevailing winds -- Did they basically always go from west to east --

Nancy Selover: They typically always go west-to-east for sure.

Ted Simons: As far as the rain we're expecting here in the valley, what are we thinking?

Nancy Selover: At the moment it's being forecast to be somewhere in the neighborhood of half to three-quarters of an inch. It's possible that we could see an inch or so in the far east valley, the closer we get toward south eastern Arizona, the higher we an -- Anticipation of precipitation.

Ted Simons: As with the state, southeast parts of the valley, southeast parts of the state getting more than otherwise -- Other places.

Nancy Selover: And they're looking at three to five inches in southeastern Arizona, in the higher elevations potentially more than that.

Ted Simons: And how many days is this going to last?

Nancy Selover: It's supposed to go through Thursday. And by then they expect it to be pulled off. And it will clear from the west toward the east. So the first places that will clear will be La Paz county and Yuma county, and Maricopa and two on over.

Ted Simons: Two hurricanes off Baja in two weeks. How unusual is that?

Nancy Selover: It's pretty unusual. We don't usually get that many that stay together and move up this far north. But this is the month it happens, when we're going to get tropical moisture from hurricane activity in the eastern Pacific, it gets -- It's usually September.

Ted Simons: Basically the monsoon starts obviously late June, July, but if you look at hurricane with monsoon, you got to wait until September.

Nancy Selover: Typically, yes.

Ted Simons: OK. Does this suggest an easing of the drought in any way?

Nancy Selover: Short-term there's some short-term easing of the drought. To the extent that we might get some recharge from some flow and some of the rivers we've had flow in a number of the rivers and if we get some good moisture on the white mountains, then we can get some flow in the upper salt and upper Gila that will help with recharge. So that's a good thing. Maybe we'll get some raising of Roosevelt like.

Ted Simons: And I notice the difference between weather and climate, but there's a climate change happening. It's obvious, we can debate it, but it's happening. Is this an example of that, or is it just impossible to make a prediction -- Say that when it's one thing?

Nancy Selover: I can't say that the two hurricanes hitting Arizona or stopping and dumping such copious amounts of rain on the Phoenix area and what's probably going to be happening in southern Arizona is climate change. But to the extent that we've had a change in circulation that's potentially led to this series of relatively strong hurricanes in the eastern Pacific, certainly that could be possible.

Ted Simons: And for a professional like you, does this change the way you forecast? Does this change your forecast maps and strategies and these sorts of things?

Nancy Selover: Not really. Not really. Because we are still in an area where we're very subject to summertime heavy amounts much moisture that can move in, and we're still at dry climate. So we're not used to a lot of rain but we typically get bursts of an inch or more at a time. And that's not unusual. Three or four inches at a time are pushing the boundary for sure.

Ted Simons: Very quickly, El Nino, have we got a shot?

Nancy Selover: It's still hanging in there. It hasn't disappeared.

Ted Simons: All right. We're still rooting for it. Nice to see you again.

Nancy Selover: Good to see you.

Nancy Selover:State Climatologist, Arizona;

Illustration of columns of a capitol building with text reading: Arizona PBS AZ Votes 2024

Arizona PBS presents candidate debates

Three main characters from mystery shows premiering this summer
June 16

It’s the Summer of Mystery!

Celebrate Juneteenth with Arizona PBS

A photo of Olivia Ford and the cover of her book,
June 26

Join us for PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: