Arizona is certainly known for it's scorching hot Summer weather that can take it's toll on anyone who lives or even visits here during this time of year. Excessive heat warnings are commonplace and temperatures above 110 degrees can last for weeks at a time. As much as residents boast of a beautiful fall and winter climate the Summer time can be dangerous for humans and animals alike.
But what some don't know about Arizona is the other aspect of Summer that is a way of life around here. Monsoon season 2015 officially started June 15th. Monsoon season is the culmination of extremely hot dry air hovering above the Arizona desert floor combined with moisture being pushed up from the Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean. When these two elements combine it results in some of the most violent, volatile, and dangerous rain and electrical storms you will ever see. Curtains of dust hundreds of feet high will push through the Phoenix area and behind it awaits sheets of rain that can dump inches of water within minutes wiping out roadways, ripping trees completely out of the ground, and knocking out power to vast areas.
Often times these powerful storms can kick up without warning leaving motorists stranded on the side of the road due to lack of visibility, or trapping individuals inside of buildings as they wait for the storm to end. Although these monsoon storms are unavoidable there are ways you can prepare yourself to handle them when they do stir up.
1. Keep water with you at all times. Monsoon storms can last from several minutes to over an hour. You never know how long you may have to wait out a storm when one occurs and keeping hydrated is a main priority.
2. If you are driving when a monsoon storm stirs up and need to pull over due to low visibility keep your emergency flashers on so that other vehicles may see that you have pulled over. If the visibility is low for you it is also low for everyone else.
3. Never attempt to drive through a flash flood area during a flash flood. These flash floods can completely wipe out roads underneath several feet of water which is moving at an extremely rapid pace. Arizona has a law in place called the "Stupid Motorist Law". This law stipulates that if you are in need of rescuing due to an attempt to cross a flash flood area during a flash flood and get trapped or stranded, you will have to pay the cost accrued due to emergency crews needing to be called.
4. Keep candles, matches, and/or flashlights available in your home in case of a power outage. These power outages can sometimes last overnight to a few days if lighting strikes an electrical transformer in the area that services your home, or if downed power lines cannot be repaired immediately.
5. Trim large trees around you to minimize damage that can occur if strong wind gusts happen to knock them over during a monsoon storm. Wind gusts up to 60 mph or more can completely uproot or snap an entire tree in half causing it to fall on parked cars or collapse in to a surrounding home. The more you keep large trees trimmed the easier it is for the wind to pass through their canopies and avoid being uprooted.
6. Pay attention to daily weather reports. Before venturing outside do a quick check of the current weather conditions. Most monsoon storms can be predicted as forecasters follow radar maps of clouds and moisture. If you see or hear of a storm moving in to the area it's best to hold off on running any unnecessary errands. These monsoon storms can move in quickly leaving you exposed to the elements.
Monsoon season in Arizona typically lasts from early June to late August. Some years can see dozens of storms while other years can be a bit more tame but monsoon storms are never to be trifled with or underestimated. It's best to always play it safe and avoid potential danger caused by these spectacular storms.