Friday, December 24, 2010

Mojave weather

The Mojave is typically a cool season desert, meaning that it doesn't get rain during the summer months. Instead, the wet season is in the winter, like in a coastal Mediterranean climate. This leads to a dryer environment during most of the year, so succulent plants like cacti are less prevalent, whereas scrubby plants like creosote and salt brush are dominant. When summer precipitation does break over the mountains, it usually falls as virga, and therefore doesn't make landfall. Summer thunderstorms are also rare, but can occur.

One of the most unusual and interesting weather events that can occur in the northern reaches of the desert is valley snow. Such occurrences don't happen often, usually only once every 15-20 years. When it does happen, it happens spectacularly, and then vanishes again as quickly as it came. The experience can be rather surreal, but the haunting beauty of seeing a creosote bush or choilla covered in a layer of fine powder is breathtaking.

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