Monsoon 2022 headed our way

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Get ready! The 2022 monsoon is headed our way. This year’s monsoon officially begins June 15. That means it’s time to prepare for storms that may bring blowing dust, heavy rain, powerful winds and dangerous flooding.

We spoke to ASU climatologist Randy Cerveny about what we can expect this year during the monsoon.

It’s hard to believe we’ll see rain anytime soon, as we sweat it out in triple digit temperatures. But this crazy heat will soon be followed by the relief of rain during the upcoming monsoon.

What does “monsoon” mean?

The word monsoon comes from the Arabic word “mausim,” which means season. National Geographic defines it as a “seasonal change in the direction of the prevailing, or strongest, winds of a region.” The monsoon runs from June 15 to September 30, and storms peak between mid-July and mid-August.

As for us in the Southwest, high pressure in the atmosphere over northern Mexico strengthens and drifts northward during the summer months. And that causes a reversal in the weather pattern across the Southwest.

How will this year be different?

“June is always the hottest month of the season, the year,” said Randy. “The monsoon is driven by hot air.”

Arizona saw a lot of rain in the 2021 season. Last year’s monsoon was the 20th wettest on record for our state. The average rainfall during the monsoon months was 7.93 inches, with most of the rainfall happening in the mountainous regions of Arizona.

This year, the National Weather Service is predicting that Arizona will have a very active monsoon. In Phoenix, the chances of precipitation are approximately 70%, which is above normal across the Southwest.

Fire danger

Unfortunately, the hot weather and high winds can lead to the spread of wildfires. Dry lightning can spark a fire as well. The early part of the monsoon is typically drier and very hot. During this part of the season, fire danger is extremely high. This is because there are more high-based dry thunderstorms that cause dry lightning and gusty winds.

Right now the Pipeline Fire burning in northern Arizona is the biggest concern. Randy showed us a satellite image of the fire burning. “That little white trail you see? That is the Pipeline Fire,” Randy said.

Monsoon safety tips

The City of Phoenix has created a website to provide residents information about the monsoon. It includes crucial information for safe driving during monsoon storms.

Tips include:

  • Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road! The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
  • Six inches of water can cause most cars to lose control.
  • Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-up trucks.
  • Don’t drive around barricades. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
  • Treat non-working or flashing traffic signals at intersections as a four-way stop. Proceed with caution.
  • If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
  • Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
  • Flood Watch = “Be Aware.” Conditions are right for flooding to occur in your area.

The 2022 monsoon officially begins June 15.

Randy Cerveny, ASU Climatologist

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