Monsoon Season in Arizona?!

Call me ignorant, but I did not realize until yesterday that Arizona had a monsoon season! It’s probably like saying one didn’t know Buffalo got blizzards! Rain, yes; I know the desert gets rain, sporadically. Yes, I know the cacti have shallow roots which can extend rapidly to take up the water and then store it in their vegetative plant structures that have adapted for this very reason. But, monsoons? Who knew?

Image by b minnick from Pixabay

I’ve never been to Arizona, so this might account for my weather event ignorance. When I think of Arizona, I think of an arid environment filled with cacti and clear night skies, void of much water and green space. However, I’ve been doing some reading and found that the state even has some forests! I’ve long wanted to visit this state that has fascinated me since sixth grade when I did a science fair project on cacti (Yes, I was a plant nerd, even back then!)

Image by Frauke Feind from Pixabay

Thus, we plan to go in October of this year to visit the national parks that are within this southwestern state. But, last night I saw photographs of Saguaro National Park, near Tucson with roads washed out due to a recent monsoon. I was shocked! Again, I had no idea that monsoons occurred in Arizona.

Merriam Webster defines a monsoon as: “1: a periodic wind especially in the Indian Ocean and southern Asia 2: the season of the southwest monsoon in India and adjacent areas that is characterized by very heavy rainfall 3: rainfall that is associated with the monsoon.” Can you see my confusion?

Image by 16081684 from Pixabay

I searched further. CNN covered this weekend’s weather event in AZ explaining monsoonal type rains and resultant flash floods. As I looked through my Arizona tour guide book, it explained that the rains between July and September can strike fast and deluge Arizona with water, creating flash floods (Hull, 2020). Dry creek beds become dangerous rushing torrents of water. The term monsoon is really a misnomer as far as I can tell, but who am I to say? I don’t live there!

All I know is that I hope when we visit in October, the “rainy” monsoon season is over!

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