Weather experts summed up the outlook for this year's monsoon with two letters on Thursday.
"We have the dreaded E.C.," said J.J. Brost, science and operations officer for the National Weather Service in Tucson. "That stands for 'equal chances' " of a wetter than normal, drier than normal, or normal monsoon.
Computer models and other indicators such as ocean temperatures show "no glaringly obvious" indication of whether we'll have a heartily moist monsoon or a fairly dry one, Brost said.
He joined Zack Guido, associate staff scientist with Climate Assessment for the Southwest at the University of Arizona, and Michael Crimmins, a UA climate science specialist, at a 2013 monsoon briefing event Thursday.
"There aren't too many unturned stones here," said Crimmins of efforts to find something that would tip the monsoon-outlook scales one way or another.
He said that Tucson typically gets about 6 inches of rain during the monsoon - the period from June 15 to Sept. 30.
If the overall outlook for the monsoon is indefinite, there's at least some indication that it could kick into gear in the next couple of weeks.
"We're still on the dry side for the next few days," Brost said in an interview after the briefing. "But the longer-term outlook for the six-to-14-day range - which puts us toward the end of June and maybe the first few days of July - is showing a little bit of extra moisture coming up.
"That looks like it's going to spell the onset of the monsoon," he said. "So hopefully, by about a week and a half to two weeks from now, we'll be seeing thunderstorms across Southeast Arizona."
the heat is on
• Tucson is blazing its way toward a possible all-time heat record for June.
• Every day in June so far, through Thursday, has reached a temperature of 100 degrees or higher, said Glenn Lader, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
• "The record number of days in June reaching 100 degrees or higher is 28," Lader said. "And we're not forecasting anything less than 100-degree highs through June 27, so it could be close."
• Tucson's average monsoon rainfall: 6.06 inches.
• Wettest summer: 13.84 inches in 1964
• Driest summer: 1.59 inches in 1924
• For detailed info on the monsoon and its dangers, go online to weather.gov/tucson or visit the National Weather Service Tucson Facebook page.
Source: National Weather Service
Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at email@example.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz