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Much of U.S. Southwest Left Parched After Monsoon Season

Cities across the U.S. Southwest recorded their driest monsoon season on record this year, some with only a trace or no rain.

The seasonal weather pattern that runs from mid-June and ended Wednesday brings high hopes for rain and cloud coverage to cool down places like Las Vegas and Phoenix. But like last year, it largely was a dud, leaving the region parched.

‘Borrowing From the Future’: What an Emerging Megadrought Means for the Southwest

It’s the early 1990s, and Park Williams stands in the middle of Folsom Lake, at the base of the Sierra Nevada foothills in Northern California. He’s not walking on water; severe drought has exposed the lakebed.

“I remember being very impressed by the incredible variability of water in the West and how it’s very rare that we actually have just enough water,” said Williams, who went on to become a climate scientist at Columbia University. “It’s often the case there’s either too much or too little.”

Williams is the lead author on a report out this month in the journal Science detailing the extent of drought conditions in the American West.