Do you enjoy a rainy day every now and then? Some people like to see bright sunshine every day of the year. Others, though, don't mind a little rain now and then.
But what about a LOT of rain every now and then? Some areas of the world experience seasons when heavy rains pour down for weeks at a time. What are we talking about? Monsoons, of course!
The word “monsoon" came from the Arabic word for “season," and this makes sense since monsoons are seasonal changes in winds that bring drastic changes in weather patterns every year. Although the word monsoon is usually used to refer to torrential rain, it actually describes the rains and the winds that bring them, as well as the corresponding dry season that follows.
For example, southern Asia, especially India, experiences monsoons every summer. From June to September, a high-pressure system sits over the Indian Ocean while a low-pressure system sits over Asia. These systems bring torrential rains to southern Asia during this time.
Farmers rely on these rains for their crops to grow. About 90% of annual rainfall falls during this time. During the winter the systems reverse, bringing particularly-dry weather for several months. About half of the world's population lives in areas affected by the Asian monsoons.
Monsoons happen in other places around the world, too. These other monsoons, though, tend to be much smaller in scope. Other areas that experience annual monsoons include areas of Africa near the equator, northern Australia, and even the southwestern United States, particularly Arizona.