Monsoon season is about to blow in

Monsoon season is about to blow in

A haboob travels across the desert during a monsoon in Arizona. Photo Credit: Grace Watson, National Weather Service

PHOENIX -- Arizona’s monsoon runs from June through mid-September. The monsoon typically begins with extreme heat, followed by an influx of moisture and increase in humidity. These changes contribute to the creation of thunderstorms. While thunderstorms may produce the cooling rains that Arizonans enjoy, it can bring a myriad of hazards with it: lightning strikes, high winds, wildfires, flash floods, extreme heat and tornados.


“Arizonans enjoy the refreshing rains that accompany the monsoon,” said Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) Director Wendy Smith-Reeve. “But we have to be prepared for the severe weather that may come along with it.”


The hazards that can occur during the monsoon can damage property (not to mention road closures and power outages),and injured—sometimes fatally--people in the past. ADEM strives to share information in order to save lives, reduce injuries and protect property.


A key step to staying safe during severe weather is to plan ahead and prepare for emergencies. Create family communication and evacuation plans that identify family meeting places in and outside of the neighborhood, and list an out-of-town contact. Practice your plans.


Prepare a disaster supply kit. Set aside enough non-perishable food and potable water to sustain family (including pets) for 72 hours. Include a first aid kit, a radio, a flashlight and batteries in your kit. Pack a smaller “go kit” with copies of important documents, cash and a phone charger for evacuations. Visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) for more preparation tips.


Know the threats to your community and how to react to them. Ask your child’s school about their emergency plan. Bookmark for emergency updates.


Inspire others. Be a preparedness example by learning basic first aid, joining a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), and/or talking to friends and family about preparedness.


Avoid dangerous monsoon weather by paying attention to what is happening during monsoon season. Check the weather forecast on TV, online or by radio. Look at the sky before you leave.


Monsoon season thunderstorms produce a lot of lightning. Stay inside during a storm and remain indoors for at least 30 minutes after the storm has passed.


The lightning strikes can also cause a fire. The gusty monsoon winds can cause the fire to spread quickly. Prepare your home and the area (within 30 feet) around it for fire season. The Arizona Interagency Wildfire Prevention website has helpful prevention tips.


Monsoon storms can produce heavy rains in a short period of time, which can lead to flash floods capable of sweeping cars down the road and destroying property. Don’t underestimate the force and power of the water. Six inches of fast moving water can knock an adult off his or her feet. Eighteen inches can carry away most vehicles. When behind the wheel, don’t attempt to cross flooded streets. Learn more at


Thunderstorms can produce strong winds, causing large clouds of dust to spread out along the ground. Dust storms can reduce visibility to near zero in seconds. Winds can gust in excess of 100 mph, and cause extensive property damage and car accidents.


Do not drive during a dust storm. If caught in one while driving: pull off the road, put the vehicle in park, turn off lights and take your foot off the brake pedal. Arizona Department of Transportation’s Pull Aside, Stay Alive campaign has great information.


Pay attention to the potential dangers monsoon season brings. Prepare yourself and your home and then enjoy the (hopefully) cooler temperatures a storm can bring.