Inside the Arizona Monsoon

avatarthumbnail.jpgAs Vicki Moore in San Mateo explained the concept of fog to me yesterday, she asked me what exactly the “monsoon” might be.

Arizona’s monsoon season doesn’t compare to the monsoons of Southeast Asia, but for the middle of the desert it’s often an impressive sight. For those who are interested in the technical details, monsoon season begins when the average daily dewpoint reaches 55 degrees.

Throughout July and August (and often a week or two past Labor Day), it’s not uncommon to see thunderheads building to the west, north or south of the Valley. Not all of these storms make it into town. Others do but create nothing but a dust storm … gusting winds kicking up dust from the remaining desert and sending it into town.

(Your average dust storm isn’t much to worry about … in the past I’ve played golf during them, though I don’t necessarily advise it.)

When the thunderstorms hit, though, it’s sometimes a different story. I often say we don’t have real weather in Phoenix but we do – it just comes in isolated, unpredictable bursts for two months out of the year. (Still considerably better than our Gulf Coast friends who are being forced from their homes by yet another hurricane.)

Two nights ago the storms caused some damage in Tempe and Phoenix, mostly due to unusually high winds. Among the casualties was Arizona State’s brand new $8 million football practice bubble.


(photo courtesy of the Arizona Republic)

Last night the storms rolled through again, laying waste to the long-held axiom that the monsoon never hits the same area two nights in a row. The video’s a bit dark (it was 11 p.m. after all) but I think it still works.

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As I said, our monsoon doesn’t hold a candle to hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, ice storms, sleet, blizzards or even fog. (Weather god Jim “Screw the hurricane, I’m standing RIGHT HERE!” Cantore never has done a live remote from the corner of 67th Avenue and Bell.) But it does provide for a little evening drama for a couple of months out of the year.

[tags]Phoenix real estate[/tags]

Jonathan Dalton

Jonathan Dalton is a 40-plus-year resident of the Valley and has been helping folks buy and sell homes since 2004. He can be reached at 602-502-9693 or info at