Southwest Climate Outlook Tropical Storm Tracker - October 2018
Assistant Research Professor, Arizona Institutes for Resilience
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, School of Anthropology
Ben McMahan joined CLIMAS after completing a PhD in Sociocultural Anthropology at the University of Arizona. His dissertation research was on hurricanes and disaster on the U.S. Gulf Coast, where he focused on
- Human interactions in dynamic social and environmental contexts,
- Risk perception and landscape changes during and after disaster, and
- Social network and policy responses to governance issues related to the acute threats of disaster; as they layer onto long term environmental issues and landscape scale changes.
He was also a key contributor to UA Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology (BARA) collaborative/trans-disciplinary research on the social, economic, and environmental impacts of the US Oil and Gas industry (2007-2011), and the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (2010-2013).
At CLIMAS, his research activities included tracing how climate information is incorporated into regional decision maker networks, leading CLIMAS team research on the risks and effects of climate extremes, and collaborative research on the effects of climate variability on phenology and temporality of native plants in the region. He was also responsible for working to develop collaborative research opportunities and outreach efforts at CLIMAS, and as part of ongoing assessment and science/strategic planning, he contributed to strategic planning used to prioritize future research and outreach directions. He also coordinated publication of the monthly Southwest Climate Outlook, produced the Southwest Climate Podcasts, and was the online editor for CLIMAS’ blog - Southwestern Oscillations.
Atlantic hurricanes Florence and Michael have understandably been the focus of attention this year, but as discussed on page 1, 2018 has been an extremely active year for tropical storms in the eastern North Pacific. While most of the storms expended most or all of their energy over the Pacific, a few had notable impacts on the Southwest.
In mid-June, Tropical Storm Bud caused widespread precipitation across the Southwest just as the monsoon began, kickstarting cumulative monsoon precipitation totals, even as some argued it should not be included as part of the monsoon* (Fig. 1). In September, Tropical depression Nineteen-E brought widespread precipitation to the Southwest (Fig. 2) and was a major contributor to that month’s above-normal precipitation (see Fig. 5 on the Maps & Images page). October has seen two events (thus far) of notably different character. Tropical Storm Rosa brought intense precipitation to the borderlands region of Arizona and up to Phoenix (Fig. 3) at the beginning of the month, resulting in severe flooding in both regions, and one week later, Tropical Storm Sergio brought more widespread but less-intense precipitation to southern Arizona and parts of New Mexico (Fig. 4).
With an official end to the season not until Nov. 30, it remains to be seen how many more tropical storms might bring additional rainfall to the Southwest this fall.
Figures 1-4 - CLIMAS: Climate Assessment for the Southwest - climas.arizona.edu