Arizona’s Summer Monsoons: It can get wild and wooly, so let’s all be aware

Published
May 29, 2024

 

National Weather Service -  Monsoon Awareness Week June 9-15, 2024

Monsoon Awareness Week – the annual effort by state, local and federal agencies to prepare the public for these awesome, often dangerously powerful storm patterns – is nearly upon us.

As for the monsoon storms themselves? Well, they will arrive. Eventually. Maybe later than usual this year. But, nevertheless, the message remains: Be prepared.

Oh, sure, they make some fun of our appropriation of the term “monsoon” in India where rainfall at the peak of the summer monsoon season in June and July averages 16-20 inches and where one uniquely situated village averages 107 inches in July alone. But the often fierce winds driving moisture from the Mexican tropics into our arid Sonoran Desert region have a character and power of their own.

National Weather Service - Flash Flood Safety

Arizona’s monsoon season, which runs from June 15-September 30, is associated with thunderstorms that produce lightning, strong winds, and heavy rains. A monsoon thunderstorm can pose multiple threats to life and property including deadly lightning, localized flash flooding, and dust storms that reduce visibility and cause unhealthy air quality.

In preparation for the region’s summer storms, ADWR partners with other agencies, including the National Weather Service, to alert the public to the hazards people may face from the strong, erratic storms in their community and while traveling. 

And not just wind and rain. Arizona’s monsoon season is very much like that of India in one crucial respect – it’s hot when the storms arrive. Really, really hot. 

National Weather Service - Dust Storm Safety

Because monsoon season spans the hottest months of the Arizona summer, it is also important to recognize the dangers of extreme heat and the symptoms of heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. 

In years gone by, the arrival of the summer monsoon came by way of a mathematical equation. The start of the season was signaled by three consecutive days of average dew point temperatures of 55 degrees or higher. 

In 2008, the National Weather Service identified June 15 through Sept. 30 as the region’s official monsoon season. This year, however, the windy and rainy aspects of the “monsoons” may commence a bit later than usual, according to Mark O’Malley, chief forecaster of the NWS in Phoenix. 

O’Malley told the Drought Interagency Coordinating Group on May 21 that Arizona may see a later-than-usual arrival of the summer storms.

Still, he said, Arizona can anticipate “a fairly average monsoon” season overall in terms of rainfall.

We recommend getting current weather forecasts at weather.gov/phoenix, on TV, on the radio or online, or by visiting the Arizona Emergency Information Network website for emergency updates, preparedness advice and hazards information, and related resources.