What and when is the Arizona Monsoon

Haboob in Arizona desert

What and when is the Arizona Monsoon?

It is mid-June, and Arizonians are preparing for the Monsoon season. This is the time of year we get 50 to 60 percent of our yearly rain. The local news and state agencies are a buzz with what to expect this year and examples of what has happened in the past. The Monsoon brings dry heat, rain, flooding, wind, severe thunder and lightning, dust storms, and humidity after the storm. Not necessarily in that order, but that is quite a list. Some years the monsoon is a ferocious lion, and other years a mild lamb with little storm activity. Every monsoon is different. As a real estate agent specializing in Phoenix retirement communities, many of my buyers want to know more about this phenomenon of nature, so let’s explore together the Arizona monsoon.

What is the Monsoon?

The word monsoon comes from the Arabic word “mausim”, which means season. This describes the summer months when rainstorms are more likely in the desert. Temperatures in Arizona can reach scorching 118 degrees or higher during the summer. The monsoon rainstorms bring much-needed relief from the dry heat. Temperatures can drop significantly after a storm but then comes the humidity. Often with massive amounts of rain in a brief period of time, flash flooding is prone in many low-lying areas. Sometimes we see a road turned into a river for several hours. Did you know cars can be swept away in less than 6 inches of water? It is not unusual to see dramatic rescues saving people from these situations.

The North American monsoon, also known as the Southwest monsoon or the Arizona monsoon, is a pattern of a significant increase in thunderstorms and rainfall over large areas of the southwestern US and north-southern Mexico. During the monsoon, thunderstorms are fueled by daytime heating and build up during the late afternoon to early evening. Typically, these storms dissipate by late night, and the next day starts out with blue skies and no signs of storms. The cycle repeats daily. The monsoon usually loses energy by mid-September when much drier conditions prevail over the region.

Haboob in Phoenix
Haboob also know as a wall of dust during monsoon season (photo credits Pritha_EasyArts)

When is the Monsoon?

Typically, the monsoon occurs between June 15th and September 30th but can start earlier or later. Like mother nature, it is unpredictable. For example, in 2021, we had the 20th wettest monsoon on record, with 7.93 inches of rain. It did not seem that wet for those who live in the Phoenix area because most of the rainfall fell in the mountains. Yes, we have mountains and skiing, but that is another blog post.

What is a haboob?

The giant dust storms are called Haboobs. They form after a thunderstorm and can reach thousands of feet high. They are usually enormous and can be thousands of feet high. Often they will look like an enormous wall of dust. They can span up to 100 miles wide.

What are the predictions for Monsoon 2023?

Arizona had a wet 2022 monsoon. Most of the state saw well above normal-rainfall. It tied for the 7th wettest July-September on record. Monsoon 2022 broke a record for the most downed electrical polls ever. So what can we expect this year?

According to the National Weather Service, Arizona’s eastern and central regions are expected to have a dryer-than-normal 2023 monsoon season. The remainder of the state, including Phoenix, will see equal chances for above, near, or below-normal precipitation. Warmer than-normal temperatures are favored for all of Arizona.

In conclusion, the Monsoon in Arizona happens during the summer months. You can compare it to hurricane season in coastal states like Florida. They both bring significant storms, with rain, wind, and damage to structures and vegetation. They differ in that in Florida, hurricanes start in the ocean and can create title surges. Monsoon storms start in the desert and create haboobs with massive walls of dust and flash flood warnings.

If you enjoyed this article on what and when is the Arizona Monsoon? You might like to know more about how those of us who live in Arizona deal with the hot summer heat. Here are tips for dealing with the Arizona heat.