Double-Edged Sword for Southwest Rain

Despite the need for rain in much of the Southwest, storms could bring the risk of flooding and wildfires through week's end.

Monsoonal moisture continues up from Mexico into the Southwest, bringing showers and thunderstorms.

These storms will be isolated, occurring mainly later in the day, but could bring some much-needed rain to the area as this pattern continues through the end of the week.

Much of the Southwest has found itself in a drought as of late August, and would welcome a bit of rain.

Since Aug. 1, Phoenix, Ariz., has only received 0.36 of an inch of rainfall. This total is about one-third of the climatological average for the same time frame.

Albuquerque, N.M., has been rather arid as well since Aug. 1, totaling only 0.45 of an inch of rain. The normal amount is almost 1.7 inches.

Small amounts of rain would help these areas tremendously in order to make up for the lack of precipitation in the area as of late.

However, these storms could also bring some negative affects to the region.

Thunderstorms will have the potential to bring torrential downpours, dropping a significant amount of rain at one time. Instead of being absorbed into the dry ground, flash flooding will be a concern.

Furthermore, thunderstorms bring the risk for dangerous lightning in an already dry area. This dangerous combination could once again spark up wildfires.

The excessively dry ground has fueled many wildfires in the Southwest that have proven tricky to contain.

The Rim Fire near Yosemite National Park in central California is one particular example. After the fire started on Aug. 17, firefighters have been hard at work to get the blaze contained by the middle of September.

Even still, more than 235,000 acres have already been burned by the fire.

Lightning may have been the cause of the Rim Fire, although the exact start of the blaze is still under investigation.

Lightning strikes have been identified as the start of other fires across the West, including two in Southern California in just the past month.

Additionally, the Beaver Creek Fire in Idaho was started by lightning from a thunderstorm in the beginning of August. Luckily, the fire was finally declared 100 percent contained on Aug. 3, but not before 111,000 acres were burnt in the blaze.