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 now preparing for the Monsoon season ahead. 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, who specializes in Phoenix retirement communities, many of my buyers what to know more about this phenomenon of nature, so let’s explore what and when is 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 that 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 major 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 its 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 go later. Like mother nature it is unpredictable. For example, last year, 2021 was the 20th wettest monsoon on record, with 7.93 inches. For those of us who live in the Phoenix area, it did not seem that wet because most of the rainfall fell in the mountains. Yes, we have mountains and skiing, but that is another blog post.

Dark thunderous clouds and roof tops during the Arizona monsoon
Dark thunderous clouds can form in the afternoon during the monsoon

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 very large 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 2022?

According to the National Weather Service, we are expected to have a very active 2022 monsoon season here in southern Arizona. This is good news as we have been in a drought for several years. Much to everyone’s surprise, the first storm of the season happened in Flagstaff on June 10th of this year. Normally, June is one of the driest months, with an average rainfall of .02 inches. On the overhand, July is usually one of our wettest months in Phoenix, with typically 1+ inches.

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 out 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.

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