Arizona is home to the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, crazy desert wildlife, and very hot summers.
#1 The word monsoon doesn’t really refer to a single storm.
Instead, it describes a whole season or large scale weather pattern.
#2 The word “monsoon” is derived from an Arabic word.
Mausin originally meant “season” or “wind shift.” These days, people use it to describe a seasonal change in winds and precipitation.
#3 Places all over the world experience monsoon season.
We’re talking everywhere! North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. In North America, we see them in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
#4 Monsoon season runs from June 15th through September 30th.
The majority of the worst storms come in mid-July and mid-August.
#5 Monsoons are caused by warm air that creates surface low pressure zones that draw moist air.
This moist air comes from the oceans and the Gulfs of Mexico and California. They create “bursts” of heavy rainfall and “breaks” of reduced rainfall.
#6 Monsoon season replenishes basin groundwater.
It also helps recharge river environments. Some places, like the San Pedro area, depend on the monsoon rains for drinking water!
#7 The downpours are actually pretty short, usually.
This doesn’t mean it doesn’t rain a lot, though. Some places in Arizona — approximately half the state — get half of their annual rainfall during monsoon season. The most rain falls in the mountains.
#8 Monsoon rains help bring new life to the desert plants.
They’ve endured the heat and scorching sun for months and now they store up as much water as they can for the dry season that is sure to return. Plants flourish during this time of plentiful resources and many bloom or bear fruit.
#9 Plentiful plant life means that wildlife flourishes, too.
During monsoon season, you can see a multitude of hummingbirds and other birds like the Red-faced warbler and the Mexican chickadee. Other animals like Gila monsters and scorpions are also lured out by pools of water.
#10 Monsoon downpours can quickly cause dangerous flash floods and mudslides.
This powerful moving water can wipe out trees and trails, damage vegetation, and move large boulders. It’s important to be especially cautious during this season, because flash floods can have tragic consequences. If you suspect a storm is brewing, stay indoors! Once the rains have subsided, you can safely go outside and appreciate all of the new life that will spring from the much-needed rain.