An Arizona Summer Phenomenon
Information on Monsoon – Sedona, AZ – First of all, there is no need to add season at the end of Monsoon because Monsoon is a season. Monsoon affects the west and southwest states because the pattern of the weather changes as noted below. We started 2017 with better than average rainfall but during April, May and June our rainfall is only been about a half an inch! So we are looking forward to this season.
Preparation For Monsoon
One quick note – Because it is our rainy season and the chance of lightning during a thunderstorm could knock out power, take some time to have things ready to go:
- Know where the flashlights and candles are for easy access.
- Keep your cell phone charged
- Clean out gutters – drains – culverts – rain ditches and any other natural path water may take during a sudden downpour.
What Is Monsoon?
It seems that Southern Arizona, the White Mountains and the Phoenix metropolitan area known as “The Valley” get the brunt of the monsoon affects. It is amazing to see the haboob (desert wind storms) kick up and tower thousands of feet in the air moving through the valley. Those storms are the pre-cursor to the rain and massive storm cells that develop from the moisture in the warm air coming off the Gulf of Mexico. Generally, massive amounts of rain falling create downdrafts that push the air out from the center of the storm which produces a dry wind that kicks up the dust and dirt.
During summer, weather patterns change. Storms that travel from the arctic (Alaska) down through Canada and the lower 48, create our winter storm pattern.
In the summer, the pattern shifts to the south. Hurricanes, storms and moisture travel northwest from the Gulf of Mexico through Mexico, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona moving all the way to California. We also get moisture coming from the Gulf of California traveling directly north. Lots of moisture and an occasional hurricane come up from the coast of Baja California and push northeast into Arizona.
Up in Northern Arizona, we get a lot of cloud cover and the storms move through but usually don’t drop a lot of rain here in Sedona.Though in Flagstaff it is quite a different story! The area of Sedona seems to be protected. By that I mean that most of the rain falls elsewhere before it gets to our little city. But when we do get rain and storm cells, it is a big deal around here.
In 2014, Sedona got 7.73 inches of rain from July thru September. In 2013, there was 8.18 inches of rain in the same time frame. Flash flooding can happen because many of the streets are sloped leading up to the red rocks. There has been much improvement made in our drainage system to be able to handle the additional water flow but during an intense storm there is no place for the water to go and mud and rocks can travel across roads to find the path of least resistance. Do not travel through a road where water is more than 4 inches deep. A car can be swept away easily.
Southern & Central Arizona
In Southern and Central Arizona – 2014 will be remembered as the “Monsoon of the Century”. All future monsoon activity will be measured in terms of 2014. There were 3 major hurricanes that effected the weather in the southern half of the state. This caused a deluge and many towns and neighborhoods suffered tremendous flooding damage due to flash floods, hurricane wind, broken canals, and water that had no where to go. Many long-time residents have never seen a deluge like we have seen this year. Sky Harbor Airport had record rainfall of 1.59 inches and has exceeded the all-time record set back in 1903.
Discover more about Sedona Weather
Some of the most incredible pictures are taken during Monsoon
Thunderheads Surround Sedona
89A – West Sedona AZ – looking south
Massive Thunderstorm at Sunset creates Fire In the Sky
North View – Century Plant in Bloom
Cathedral Rock at Monsoon Sunset
Looking Toward the Mogollon Rim
Rare Monsoon Sunset Rainbow
It was taken just a couple of minutes before the sky went on fire!