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4 Effects of Monsoon Storms in Arizona

When moisture conditions shift, Arizona monsoons peak. While monsoons are commonly thought to occur in Asia, parts of the United States also experience sets of ravaging storms. Monsoon storms in Arizona can lead to a wide range of environmental effects and dangers.

What is a monsoon storm?

Monsoon storms are meteorological events. Wintertime wind flows in Arizona typically move from the west or northwest. Once summertime arrives, the wind shifts to a southern or southeasterly direction. Moisture is directed northward from the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

The winds from the south (Mexico) push moisture northward. This radical shift in climatic conditions causes changes in the levels of environmental moisture. Combined with Arizona’s daytime temperature highs, the changes lead to what is known as the monsoon storm.

Intense surface heat fuels the thunderstorms with which Arizona residents are most familiar. Monsoon storm conditions cannot, however, be produced without a strong influx of moisture. Specific environmental temperatures must also be met in order to result in a monsoon storm.

Dew points averaging 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher for three consecutive days are the set criteria for monsoon conditions. Monsoon thunderstorms in Phoenix, for example, can be produced when temperatures reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit. In Tucson, temperatures can be lower.

When is Arizona’s monsoon season?

Arizona residents have come to expect the monsoon season every summer, from June 15 through September 30. During monsoon season, storms do not happen every day. Rather, storms follow a pattern of bursts and breaks. Arizona’s storm cells are also short-lived.

Summer storms are unpredictable in Arizona, unlike in Midwestern states, where weather from the west can be expected a short while later in the east. Arizona monsoons typically develop over high eastern terrain and flow into lower western valley locations.

However, these weather patterns do not always occur as projected, making monsoon storm irregularities the norm. Arizona residents have seen monsoon storms linger in the mountains and not spread to other areas; clear skies can be seen overhead, while dark clouds build in the mountains.

1. Dust Storms (aka Haboobs)

One of the most dangerous effects of monsoon storms in Arizona is the dust storm. These dust storms form massive walls of dust, sometimes reaching miles high. Impressive-looking, dust storms that are created in the midst of a monsoon storm can be deadly, especially when driving.

Blocking visibility on the road to near-zero (such as in fog or blizzard), dust storms become hazardous for people operating a vehicle. Dust storms essentially transform a bright, sunny day into a garish, dark one. Arizonians refer to these dust storms as haboobs.

Text alerts of anticipated dust storms are sent out before they hit. Despite ample warning from government officials, drivers are asked to proceed with caution. Drivers should pull over and park when a dust storm approaches. Also, keep the windows rolled up.

2. Respiratory Problems

Residents with respiratory conditions, like asthma, are vulnerable in the wake of a dust storm. Health issues could arise simply by being outside when a dust storm hits; the dust will enter the individual’s lungs and cause an asthma attack or a range of breathing problems.

Breathing dust can also introduce a specific fungus that lives in the soil of the Southwest into a person’s lungs. Valley Fever is known to cause flu-like symptoms, including chest pain, fever, rash, and coughing. The condition is not deadly, but in severe cases, medication may be required.

3. Flash Flooding

Although Arizona is rather dry, precipitation falls (normally 12.5 inches a year). What causes flash floods is the intensity of the rain. Arizona typically receives the rainfall all at once, which can prompt a flash flood, especially along dry riverbeds and low desert areas.

Hikers in these regions can drown and are advised to seek higher ground as soon as storms are anticipated. Flash floods can cause cars to float away. Parts of freeways and underpasses will flood. It is best to heed road signs that warn drivers to avoid areas that flood easily.

4. Lightning Strikes

Anyone who can hear thunderstorms rumble in the distance is prone to lightning strikes. Arizona and New Mexico are subject to 1.5 million lightning strikes annually, which is 15 percent of the lightning strikes that affect the other 48 states.

When outdoors, lightning can cause injury and death. When a storm approaches, seek shelter inside a building with plumbing fixtures or a car with a metal roof. If shelter is unavailable, move away from elevated areas, avoid rocky cliffs, and do not stand under an isolated tree.

Prepare a disaster plan and emergency kit for use during a monsoon storm. Turn off the air conditioner if it is not too hot. Unplug expensive electronics before the storm arrives. Clear or cut nearby tree branches to prevent those that break during the storm from damaging the home.

Flood Cleanup in Arizona

Flash flooding is a serious threat and can occur during a monsoon storm. Arizona residents are advised to seek the services of a reputable flood cleanup expert in the immediate aftermath of a damaging storm. ServiceMaster EMT is available to service homes and businesses.

Water damage can lead to a range of destruction, from warped and weakened building structures to mold infestations. ServiceMaster EMT technicians arrive onsite quickly to start the flood cleanup process. We work with speed, as further ruin can easily spread throughout the property.

Our comprehensive water damage restoration services include the complete extraction of excess moisture from the building, thorough drying of the area, rug and upholstery cleaning, and mold removal. ServiceMaster specialists use advanced machinery, such as powerful dehumidifiers, during the restoration process.

ServiceMaster EMT technicians are highly skilled and experienced in tackling water damage in properties of all sizes. We offer emergency water damage restoration services to residential homeowners and business owners in Southern California and Nevada, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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