5 Reasons to Love Arizona’s Monsoons
Living in the Valley certainly has its benefits: An enviable climate, lush Sonoran Desert landscapes at every turn, and those sunny blue skies for days on end. So when Mother Nature throws a curve into this normally fair and idyllic setting during our annual monsoon season, one might think we’d be dismayed. Nope! Here are five reasons we look forward to our summer storms:
- THAT UNMISTAKABLE SMELL OF RAIN. Does rain actually have a smell? In the desert it sure does. That pungent but not unpleasant aroma you smell when a storm is brewing is the scent of the prolific creosote plants that fan all across the Valley floor. The creosote plant only grows in the arid southwest areas of the United States and Mexico and it’s the resinous oil in the plants’ leaves that release that distinct scent when they become wet with rain or even just high levels of humidity. Fun fact: Did you know creosote bushes have one of the longest life spans of any living organism on earth? We’re talking thousands of years!
- GRAB THE POPCORN AND SETTLE IN FOR A SHOW. Is it just us, or does everyone across the Valley turn off the lights and gather near a picture window when lightning is sparking up the night sky? The intense summer heat and cooler monsoonal airflow combine to create dramatic and vigorous thunderstorms in the desert. If you don’t mind the thundering booms and cracks that accompany the light show, we consider watching a violent storm pass through from the safety and comfort of your home as a perk of living in the desert!
- A BRIEF RESPITE FROM THE HEAT. When our summer days are blistering hot, the extreme drop in temperature that is often heralded in by a storm is always a welcomed event. As precipitation falls through a storm column, it drags cooler air down with it. In fact, it’s not unusual to experience a 30-degree cooling during and right after a storm moves through. It may not last for long, but we’ll take it!
- THE WET STUFF. Unlike other parts of the country, the dry, arid Sonoran Desert only receives about six or seven inches of rain a year. So when it does rain, most Phoenicians don’t mind it a bit. On average, the Valley receives nearly half its total annual rainfall during the short monsoon season. We particularly love the big, fat drops of rain that plop heavily from the sky. There’s something so satisfying in feeling the weight of those hefty drops in the palms of our hands!
- SUNSETS ARE EVEN MORE SPECTACULAR. Yes, it’s true, we are gifted with beautiful sunsets on any given evening throughout the year. But the rich, vibrant hues that develop in the stormy skies during monsoon season are made even more dramatic due to the presence of clouds. It’s the ice crystals within high or medium-level clouds that scatter and reflect light, leading to a dazzling display.