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A monsoon is a periodic wind, especially in the Indian Ocean and southern Asia. The word is also used to label the season in which this wind blows southwest in India and adjacent areas that is characterized by very heavy rainfall, and specifically the rainfall that is associated with this wind. The southwest monsoon onset on the Kerala coast of India usually begins within two weeks of June 1st. The northeast monsoon in Tamil Nadu begins typically in October.

The word monsoon appears to have originated from the Arabic word موسم (mausim), which means season. It is most often applied to the seasonal reversals of the wind direction along the shores of the Indian Ocean, especially in the Arabian Sea, that blow from the southwest during one half of the year and from the northeast during the other.

As monsoons have come to be better understood, the definition has been broadened to include almost all of the phenomena associated with the annual weather cycle within the tropical and subtropical continents of Asia, Australia, and Africa and the adjacent seas and oceans. It is within these regions that the most vigorous and dramatic cycles of weather events on Earth takes place.

The North American monsoon occurs in late summer and affects Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. It is associated with a high which sets up on the southern Great Plains. Moisture is then drawn northward from the Gulf of California. Rainfall during the monsoon occurs as thunderstorms over the southern Rocky Mountains and adjacent areas.

The Greek sailor Hippalos is traditionally held to have been the first to use the monsoon to speed across the Indian Ocean. However, it is more likely that he was simply the first Greek to master the monsoon, as Yemeni sailors were trading with India long before his time.

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