The Beauty of the Arizona Monsoon
I captured this beautiful monsoon blowing dust in the distance from a perch on Black Mountain in far N. Scottsdale.
When we permanently moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, we had absolutely no idea that there existed something called the Arizona Monsoon. In fact, I thought a monsoon was something that brought major rainstorms to India, not Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Even though the term monsoon was originally defined for the Indian subcontinent, monsoon circulations exist in other locations of the world as well, such as in Europe, Africa, and the west coasts of Chile and the United States. Arizona happens to be located in the area of the United States that experiences a monsoonal circulation.
During the summer months, winds shift from a west or northwest direction to a south or southeasterly direction. This allows moisture from the Gulf of California and the Gulf of Mexico to stream into the state. This shift in the winds, or monsoonal circulation, produces a radical change in moisture conditions statewide”. (via The National Weather Forecast Service)
According to the National Weather Service, Arizona’s monsoon season officially begins on June 15 and ends on September 30. However, the beginning and end of Arizona’s monsoon season can vary dramatically from year to year.
This year, we were well into July before we saw any monsoonal rains falling on the parched Sonoran desert.
For travelers and photographers, Arizona’s monsoons create a cacophony of sights and sounds as the late-afternoon skies fill with stunningly beautiful thunderstorms that bring very heavy rainfall, spectacular lightening displays, dust storms, and magnificent sunsets as the sun reflects on dust particles in the atmosphere.
However, there is a dark side to the beauty of Arizona’s monsoons. When one of these monsoons decides to dump as much as 5 inches of rain in a very short period of time, heavy flooding occurs. And what was once a dry mountain wash will suddenly become a dangerous, violent raging river in a matter of minutes. This in turn creates potentially hazardous driving in the desert’s abundant low-lying areas.
As a child, I remember seeing cowboy movies with sudden torrents of water that would drown a cowboy or two. However, I never put the fantasy world of the movies into the face of reality.
Nonetheless, we feel that Arizona’s monsoons are yet another reason to visit our beautiful state. Nowhere else, other than the American desert southwest, will you find such a unique display of creation’s majesty.
Come on down and see it for yourself. Plus, you’ll find Scottsdale’s fabulous 5-Star resorts nearly 1/3rd the cost of high season rates!