One single thunderstorm isn’t called a “monsoon.” A monsoon is actually a large-scale weather pattern that causes strong thunderstorms.4 Monsoons bring heavy rains and wind in very specific areas. It’s like an island or huge storm cloud in one part of the city and blue skies in another — even on the same street. The winds can sometimes be over 60 mph5 — which can cause damage to more than just good hair days. Think: fallen trees and roof damage. These winds kick up dirt and sand, creating dust storms6 that we call haboobs (that’s another story we’ll have to share).
We’re on the lookout for monsoon thunderstorms between June 15 and September 30 every year … it’s not a continuous downpour for days on end. Instead they show up unexpectedly, fast and furious, typically in the late afternoons and evenings. This rain is like no other and up to 50% of Arizona’s annual precipitation happens during this season. During monsoon rainfall, this water replenishes reservoirs, helps with local farming and reduces the threat of wildfires.3
Speaking of fires … the barren land and ashes that wildfires leave behind are commonly known as burn scars. During monsoon season, flash flooding is more likely in these burn scars. So, if there’s a heavy monsoon rain, the potential for flooding poses a real threat. Be careful out there if you’re hiking our beautiful Arizona forests!
While we’re on the topic of monsoon season hazards, driving can be a challenge. Arizona has a “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” safety campaign.
Lightning + heavy rain + high winds + flash flooding + hail + dust = dangerous driving conditions.5
Unique fact: Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law” permits rescue agencies to collect up to $2,000 for water rescues if motorists get stuck after purposely driving in flooded areas.7 This is what detours are for — turn around and stay dry. Trust us, you won’t ever see any Natina trucks purposely driving through floods. Zing!
Even though there’s some unwelcome aspects of the monsoon season, most people look forward to it because we need the rain and cooler temperatures. During Arizona monsoons, lightning puts on a show with an average monsoon season collecting about 280,000 counts. And on July 26, 2006, the Phoenix area saw about 3,700 lightning strikes in ONE DAY!8
While you never should be out in a lightning storm or near the windows during one, some daredevils have captured photos like this so that we who don’t dare venture out can see what’s happening in our backyards.
That’s what everyone says and thinks of when it comes to Arizona’s weather. That, and it’s generally hot, without much rain (averaging only 10” or less per year).
“Much of the western half and eastern third of the continental United States experienced above-average maximum temperatures for the year with Arizona ranking warmest on record.”
— National Centers for Environmental Information2
So, if you’re not from the Southwest U.S., you might not realize the North America Monsoon is a real seasonal occurrence. Arizona and New Mexico are mainly affected by monsoonal weather.3 Since Natina is HQ’ed in Arizona, we’d like to share what it’s like to be in a dry, hot climate with unpredictable monsoon seasons!
MAP OF U.S. ANNUAL TOTAL PRECIPITATION AVERAGE1
Now that we’ve shared the good, the bad and the ugly of what it’s like to experience monsoon thunderstorms, let’s touch on why they happen. Since we specialize in color solutions and not meteorology, we’ll phone a “friend.”
“The term ‘monsoon’ describes large-scale wind shifts that transport moist tropical air to dry desert locations, such as the southwestern U.S. Intense heating of the land over Mexico and the southwestern U.S. in the early summer months creates the wind shifts in the low levels. Moisture begins to be carried off of the Gulf of California and the eastern Pacific Ocean (the two main sources for monsoonal moisture in northern Arizona). These winds transport moisture northward into Mexico and the American Southwest.”8
— Officials with the National Weather Service’s Flagstaff Office
Clear as mud? We thought so. Basically, it’s wind from palm-tree-studded, sandy-beached tropical areas blowing up to the desert, aka the home of Natina, and bringing that precious moisture to our land.
We hope you enjoyed this monsoon name-drop session! We love Arizona and sharing what makes it so unique — it’s a perfect home to our unique offerings. We’ve covered monsoon season, and we can cover, er we mean, color, other things, too … like concrete, steel and rock!
CHECK OUT THE SOURCES TO GET MORE INFO ON MONSOON THUNDERSTORMS