Slow start to Arizona's monsoon season ups wildfire worries

An Arizona summertime visitor has been noticeably absent this time of year.

We haven’t received any monsoon storms since the start of the season and that puts us in a critical fire weather pattern.

The positive is that there's no monsoon rain to dampen our Fourth of July fireworks shows, but that also means no rain to dampen all the crispy, dried vegetation around the Valley.

Add extreme heat and there’s a higher chance of firestorms instead of thunderstorms.

The only water pouring down, it seems, can be found at splash pads and pools. There’s not a thunderstorm in sight for the next couple of weeks.

Siquem Lopez is just waiting for a monsoon storm, like most of us.

"I am because it helps us cool down and with all the rain it's good for us, so we're not in the heat all the time," Lopez said.

So far this year, the monsoon moisture has been a no-show.

"It’s been really slow to evolve, it’s still kind of stuck in southern Mexico," says Mike Crimmins with the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Arizona.

The conditions across Arizona right now are ripe for fast-spreading flames and dangerous fires.

"We are entering such a critical period for fire, we haven’t had a lot of monsoon rains yet. We are getting a lot of lightning, we are getting a lot of strong winds. It’s going to be hot and dry. Any spark can set up conditions for a big wildfire," says Molly Hunter, University of Arizona associate research professor.

However, experts say models show a possibility of extreme wet weather later this year.

"We had a really active winter storm season that hung out into the springtime, but there’s also a robust El Niño forming right now," Crimmins said. "I think later in the season, keeping an eye on the El Niño event could bring us tropical storm activity in the southwest in September and maybe even October."

Hopefully, we won’t have to wait until El Niño comes in September until we get good rain.