The Arizona Monsoon

Every season, extraordinary forces of nature unleash their formidable power over the globe. Those who live near fault lines learn earthquake survival techniques, and others prepare intricate cover plans for tornadoes and hurricanes. However, many Americans fall short when it comes to detailed knowledge of the tumultuous force that is called the Arizona Monsoon.

arizona monsoon

Don’t be a victim of “Get There-Itis”. Go Around! Photo Coutesy of FEMA.

What is a monsoon?

Also known as the American Monsoon or the Southwest Monsoon, the seasonal phenomenon affects large portions of the pacific southwest, as well as chunks of Northeastern Mexico. The monsoon’s storm power varies from year to year, and at it’s worst, it can be violent enough to cause treacherous flash flooding, dangerous lightning strikes, and up to a whopping nine inches of torrential rain a month! When dealing with the Arizona Monsoon, it pays to be aware and well informed. Lets take a look at some of the key information that you need to know.

monsoon clouds national park service arizona

Monsoon clouds forming over Arizona. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

Mausim in Arabic Means Monsoon

Derived from the Arabic word mausim meaning ‘season,’ monsoons are a pronounced, and sometimes violent, annual reversal of the most forceful wind patterns in a given geographic area. These commanding currents cause drastic weather shifts that result in a torrential rainy season for roughly half of the year. Though many use the word monsoon to refer to the annual, rainy portion of the year, there are actually two separate and widely differing monsoon seasons.

The Summer Monsoon Season

This half of the Arizona Monsoon occurs from mid June to late September. At this time of year, low-pressure areas of atmosphere build up over extremely hot land, and clash with the high-pressure atmosphere zones that reside above cool ocean waters. This clash drives the cool and moisture laden ocean winds inland, causing it to rise and form perilous thundercloud formations that yield extremely heavy rains.

The Winter Monsoon Season

The less commonly referred to winter monsoon season begins around mid September after the scorched southwestern lands and atmosphere cool down. The cooling causes a complete reversal in wind flow direction, and pulls the extremely dry, over land atmosphere, towards the ocean. The lack of incoming moist ocean air and the resultant higher-pressure zone that forms over the cooled land are both strongly responsible for the Arizona winter monsoon dryness and drought conditions. In the event that southbound cool air clashes with lingering moisture from the summer monsoon season, thunderstorms may sporadically continue.

What to know

It is essential to understand that the heavy rain, violent storms, and severe weather conditions that take place are not the actual monsoon. A monsoon is a grand scale meteorological pattern that causes the severe weather conditions. During the summer monsoon season, be sure to stay aware and prepared. Always have an emergency kit nearby, and make a daily habit of taking a scan of the full horizon before departing from any secure location. With just a bit of knowledge, and consistent awareness, you can handle the forceful mood swings of the Arizona Monsoon season with no problems at all!

What Not To Do!

Never cross a body of moving water. The power of moving water is extraordinary. On the news, we’ve all seen cars floating in what looks like washes. But, those washes were really roadways that were hit with a flash flood. Don’t be a victim of “Get There-itis”. Be patient and wait for the flow to die down, or better yet, find another route.

What to do if your car is submerged under water: Popular Mechanics Article with Video.

Drive Safely, and the next time you’re looking for motor vehicle services, check out our website at !

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