The 2015 monsoon is under way good and early, as we previously discussed. Some parts of the White Mountains are approaching 2 inches of rain in the past two weeks, according to the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service from the NWS.
The USGS stream gauges are showing good water flow in the drainages below our hunting grounds. In particular, all three of the major drainages from the White Mountains (i.e. the Little Colorado, Black, and San Francisco Rivers) are running flows in the 75th to 90th percentile for this time of year. The Mogollon Rim and Kaiabab Plateau drainages are flowing pretty well, too.
More is on the way, too. The 7-day QPF (Quantitative Precipitation Forecast) shows another 1-2″ of rain is likely over much of the state in the coming week, especially in the Eastern and Central high country.
And here is a 15-day forecast for Greer that shows a 50% chance or greater of rain almost every day from now until July 12th. Wow!
Now, it’s important we not count our chickens before they’re hatched. Monsoon weather is wacky, and who knows if it will meet expectations? But if you take these predictions in conjunction with the wet weather we had in the late Spring this year, it seems to me that we are looking at a very early start to the high summer season.
In California they say you should start looking for boletes 10 days after two inches of rain have fallen. In my experience, it takes more like 2-3 weeks here in Arizona, perhaps because it gets so much drier in the off-season. It was late July/early August before things got rolling the past two years, and they were pretty wet summers too.
But we’ve already found a handful of boletes thanks to the wet spring of 2015, so I think we’ll see things ramping up sooner than that. I will go out on a limb and predict that we will start to get reports of people filling their baskets with boletes by July 10-15, and chanterelles not too long after.
So if you were waiting for August to arrive, you might miss the peak of the season. You should think about putting a weekend or two in July aside for an excursion to the mountains. There have been years that started with a bang like this, and then petered out almost completely by the middle of the usual monsoon season. The entire season’s predicted rainfall is still looking good, but one can never count on it.
If you like these weather maps and data resources, hang tight for a little longer. I’ll be putting links to them on a permanent page that should provide Arizona mushroom hunters with one-stop shopping for information about the weather– past, present, and future.
One last thing I must emphasize is the importance of safety during monsoon storms. Lightning, falling trees, weather-related vehicular accidents, and flash floods kill people every year. As I write this post, sadly, there is news that a 24-year-old Florida woman who was hiking on the Mogollon Rim was killed by a lighting strike, and seven other people in her party were seriously injured. You can find some useful information about avoiding injury during summer thunderstorms at Monsoon Safety.
So, be careful out there! Full baskets and happy trails! And if you hit the jackpot, send pictures and give us a very general idea of where we might like to start looking.