Well, Arizona’s “Monsoon Season” is finally upon us — although we haven’t had a drop of rain at our house.
The seasonal shift of winds created by the great annual temperature variation that occurs over large land areas in contrast with associated ocean surfaces. The monsoon is associated primarily with the moisture and copious rains that arrive with the southwest flow across southern India. The name is derived from the word mausim, Arabic for season. This pattern is most evident on the southern and eastern sides of Asia, although it does occur elsewhere, such as in the southwestern United States.
In Wickenburg, monsoon season begins as a noticeable increase in humidity. The nights remain warm — far too warm to keep your windows open. Large Colorado River toads appear in the evening in gardens and other irrigated areas. Clouds begin forming in the afternoon, usually to the north or east, and make their way toward town. If the clouds manage to cross the Weaver or Wickenburg Mountains before sunset, Wickenburg is likely to get thunderstorms. Otherwise, the clouds are more likely to dissipate without the sun’s energy to keep convective activity going.
Although it’s unbearably hot during monsoon season — typically 110°+ and humid — monsoon season is one of my favorite times of the year. Let’s face it, Arizona weather can be pretty boring, with nothing but sunshine and cloudless skies for most of the year. Monsoon season makes the weather interesting. I can sit at my desk and track incoming weather from the north. When the rain starts to fall, I can go out and get a good soaking.
Of course, all this rain also causes flooding. Dry washes become raging rivers. Trees, bushes, and other debris are washed away. Roads become impossible to pass. While most flooding usually lasts less than an hour or two, the Hassayampa River can sometimes flow for weeks during monsoon season. That’s interesting, too.
As I write this, Hurricane Claudette is moving westward, onto the coast of Texas. It’ll be interesting to see how far Claudette’s moisture gets. The year I moved to Wickenburg, a tropical storm’s moisture made it all the way to Arizona. Four inches of rain fell in Wickenburg in less than 24 hours, threatening the Sol’s Wash Bridge on Tegner/93. I still have the video from Wickenburg’s 15 minutes of fame, when we made CNN Headline News.
Personally, I can’t wait to take to the skies in my helicopter after a good storm, just to watch the water flowing across the desert floor. I hope to be able to share some interesting flooding photos this year. Stay tuned.