In Celebration of Our Summer Storms

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Posted on August 4, 2017 by Laura Lucky

Rain in the Valley. Some of our favorite things about living in Scottsdale are the annual summer storms. From that distinctive “Arizona rain smell” (it’s the desert’s creosote plants emitting that pleasant odor from the resin on its leaves) to those dramatic lightning displays, Arizona’s monsoon season is generally greeted with relief by most of us. Since summer thunderstorms can drop the temperature by up to 50 degrees while they’re rolling through, it’s easy to understand why they’re a welcome respite.
The word monsoon doesn’t describe a storm. It’s the moniker of a large-scale weather pattern which is the cause of the storms. A monsoon pattern is simply strong breezes that blow from a cold environment to a hot one. Here in North America, the shift in wind patterns in summer occurs as parts of Mexico and the southwest U.S. heat under intense summer sun. As this happens, the wind flow shifts from dry land to moist ocean areas and that low-level moisture is then transported our way.
Even though the monsoon season doesn’t usually start kicking up storms until early July, the season has been officially designated as occurring from June 15th – September 30th each year. Arizona receives a third of its total yearly rainfall during this relatively short time.
Monsoons can cause damage with strong downburst winds, dust storms, lightning and flash floods. Yet many Arizonans love to watch these storms roll in, even if from the comfort and safety from inside their homes. The thunder and lightning shows are downright spectacular; perhaps that’s why the Arizona desert is so highly photographed during a lightning show.
Be sure to exercise caution during the monsoon season. Every year homes are damaged by strong winds or lightning strikes; people get caught up or stranded in dangerous floods; and multiple-vehicle pile-ups occur during little-to-no-visibility dust storms. However, once you’re in a safe environment, feel free to love these Arizona storms as much as we do!

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