Monsoon Madness: Bet on Much-Needed Rain

Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Lightning strikes behind Old Main on main campus during a monsoon storm. Photo Credit: Chris Richards

Every summer, the people who call the Southwest home can only talk about two things: the heat  and the monsoon.

After an abysmally dry monsoon and a rainfall total of a mere 4.17 inches at Tucson International Airport, 2020 went in the books as the city's driest year on record. Even thirsty saguaros have sprouted blooms in unusual places, signaling distress. The region's people and other ecological natives are also desperately hoping a phenomenal monsoon will bring reprieve.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee. According to University of Arizona climatologist Michael Crimmins and the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center, there are equal chances that monsoon rainfall this summer will be above, at or below the average of 6.08 inches of rain.

With the monsoon capturing the attention of scientists and the public, Guido, Crimmins and their colleagues Ben McMahon and Rey Granillo, also at AIR, developed a game that allows people to test their own knowledge of the monsoon by making predictions: Southwest Monsoon Fantasy Forecasts. Guido is the principal investigator for the project, which is a study that uses a game to promote climate awareness and evaluate public forecasting skills. Players complete a short questionnaire about their monsoon experience and history before making their predictions.

Read the full story and learn how to play

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