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Saturday, August 17, 2013

All About Arizona - Monsoon Season

Summer in Arizona - thunderstorms, dust, humidity and hopefully, rain.  Monsoon season adds humidity to already sizzling temperatures, which in turns causes nasty dust and thunderstorms.  It's probably the worst time of year to visit.  105 degrees can be bearable in early June, but in monsoon season it's downright miserable.

Most of Arizona's precipitation comes during monsoon season, which is officially between June 15 and September 30.  Sudden heavy precipitation results in our dry "washes" (think creek bed) running like raging rivers in less than a half hour.  If you are fooling enough to enter one of these in your car, you can violate Arizona's Stupid Motorist Law, which requires a person to pay for the costs of rescue assuming you aren't drowned in the meantime.  This recently became national news when a bus driver near Kingman decided to cross a running wash.

During monsoon season Arizona also experiences haboubs.  What's a haboub?  It's pronounced "ha-boob" and it's a sand storm.  If you want to see lots of video, you can easily find it on YouTube, but these are pictures from my backyard:

To the west - extending nearly 60 miles
A haboub looks like a large, slow moving cloud that rolls in a blanket of dust and turns dusk to pitch black in less than five minutes.  It leaves an annoying layer of dust on everything outside.  

Yes, monsoon season (when the "dry heat" isn't so dry) can be brutal to endure, but for someone who loves the desert, it's just another example of the enigmatic beauty of the southwest.  I love the smell of creosote on the desert floor, the beautiful purple Texas sage that blooms after a storm and of course, the rainbows after the rain.