Arizona, The Grand Canyon State, has 300 days of sunny skies and low humidity. As a southwestern US state that seldom experiences rain, it’s interesting to know that rain falls during its monsoon season. So, when is monsoon season in Arizona?
Arizona’s monsoon season is from June 15 to September 30. Southern Arizona receives two-thirds to three-fourths of the state’s annual precipitation. Central Arizona experiences about half, while it becomes marginal in Northern Arizona.
This article covers what to expect during Arizona’s monsoon season. It also includes safety tips and fun activities to enjoy during this rainy season.
Arizona’s Monsoon Season
Monsoon means ‘season’ or ‘wind shift’ and is a meteorological singularity in Arizona.
Arizona’s monsoon season occurs during summer across the southwest area of North America. When the Arizona season moves from winter to summer, the primary winds from the western or northwestern states of California and Nevada ‘shift’ into the southerly or southeasterly directions.
The shift changes moisture conditions in the state, and when coupled with daytime heating, Arizona monsoons are created.
The annual temperature variation over Arizona’s landmasses is another cause of monsoons in Arizona.
When the pressure deficit couples with the storm track in summer, tropical moisture moves toward the lower pressure in the north, shifting the wind and triggering seasonal rains.
The monsoon season in Arizona starts in mid-June, and the season’s higher humidity often encourages the following:
- Heavy rain
- Flash flood
- Extreme heat
- High wind
- Dust storm
When does monsoon season end in Arizona? Around the end of September.
What To Expect
During Arizona’s monsoon season, thunderstorms in southern Arizona create mile-high walls of dust (haboobs). When it rolls over to the Valley, daytime turns into darkness.
Driving also proves difficult with lesser visibility, and may cause your tires to lose traction.
Due to Arizona’s dry and hard-packed topography, the soil struggles to absorb water, creating flash floods when there’s a sudden downpour of rain. Water collects and travels through washes (dry riverbeds) at high speeds.
Arizona experiences lightning storms during its monsoon season, but they are relatively mild compared to the massive electrical disturbances in the Midwest. Arizona averages 1.5 million lightning strikes annually, according to the National Weather Service.
Gila monsters (a venomous lizard species native to the Southwestern US) love high humidity. According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, they come out at night and live in washes. Tarantulas and other bug varieties also come out during monsoons in Arizona.
How Often Do Monsoons Occur in Arizona?
Arizona has two types of monsoons. The Dry Monsoon occurs from April to June, averaging 6% of the state’s annual precipitation. The Wet Monsoon happens from July to September when the state experiences 32% of its normal annual rainfall.
Here are some quick facts about the Monsoon Season in Arizona from 1896 to 1992.
|Average monsoon days||56|
|Highest monsoon days||99 in 1984|
|Least monsoon days||27 in 1962|
|Wettest monsoon||9.38 inches in 1984|
|Driest monsoon||.35 inches in 1924|
|Average monsoon rainfall||2.45 inches|
What Part Of Arizona Gets Monsoons?
According to the National Weather Services, Arizona monsoons in 2019 and 2020 were dry. But in 2021, Phoenix experienced the wettest monsoon season since 2014. Nearly 2 inches more than the normal rainfall fell in Phoenix.
Tucson experienced its third wettest monsoon, recording 7 inches of rainfall over its average. Flagstaff had 9 inches more rain compared to its record in 2020.
The monsoon season lasts longer in southern Arizona, accounting for two-thirds to three-fourths of the state’s annual precipitation.
Central Arizona experiences about half the state’s annual monsoon activity.
It becomes marginal in Northern Arizona.
Safety Driving Tips
The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) suggests the following driving tips during an Arizona monsoon:
- Before driving, inspect your windshield wipers and replace them if necessary.
- Turn your headlights on while driving.
- Reduce speed and maintain a safe distance.
- Brake slowly. Sudden breaks can cause your car to slide on wet pavements.
- If there’s a dust storm or heavy rain, wait it out until it moves through the area.
- Find a safe place away from the road when extreme weather persists.
- When driving visibility is poor, pull off the road, turn off car lights, set the brake, and disengage from the brake pedal. This will limit the chance for other motorists to mistake your car as the one to follow.
- Don’t cross flooded roads even if they appear shallow. A few inches of running water can be potentially risky.
- Don’t drive around ‘Road Closed’ signs. Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law allows agencies to rescue you, but it would cost you up to $2,000.
- If you experience hydroplaning (your car loses contact with the road when water accumulates between your tires and the road), ease off the gas until you regain traction.
- When traffic lights are out, treat intersections as four-way stops.
- Be cautious driving near slopes above highways prone to loose boulders or rocks caused by storm runoffs.
Top Activities During Monsoon Season In Arizona
Pack your bags because Arizona is eager to show you some of its sought-after adventures during the state’s monsoon season.
Play Indoor Baseball and Softball
Indoor destinations such as, It’s All In the Game, in Peoria offer hitting tunnels, pitching mounds, weight-training areas, and a physical therapy facility.
Top-notch baseball and softball instructors offer private and group lessons, but reservation is advised.
12 West Brewing Co in Gilbert, AZ, has a taproom that serves an inventive hop-heavy brew, whether you’re new to sipping balanced wheat or a craft beer enthusiast.
8-Bit Aleworks’s tasting room seats nearly 50 guests, where you can play Super Nintendo, NES, and table-top games. It’s located in Avondale, AZ.
Uptown Alley in Surprise, AZ, is an upscale bowling alley with plasma TVs and spacious couches. It has a full-size arcade, a two-story laser tag maze, a Sports Theater with giant screens for sporting events, a live-music stage, and billiard tables.
Various companies offer cosmic journeys for you at Sedona. Their high-end telescopes let you gaze at constellations with the help of staff astronomers.
Evening Sky Tours is among the top organizers. With their telescopes and staff assistance, you may even glimpse Saturn and its rings.
K1 at South 21st Street can accommodate large groups of people who enjoy speeding around the track. This go-kart venue uses electric motors in their karts and offers Arrive & Drive for walk-ins without reservation.
Essentials When Visiting Arizona During Monsoon Season
The following are your traveling basics:
- Waterproof bag
- Synthetic clothes
- Rubber footwear
Conclusion: When Is Monsoon Season in Arizona?
Arizona’s monsoon season starts on June 15 and ends on September 30. While the season presents challenges brought by storms, floods, and winds of varied shapes and sizes, Arizona offers adventures that draw visitors around the globe.
Feast your eyes through stargazing tours or dive into the Havasupai Falls. Shop at the best markets in the state, then recharge by exploring your taste buds at a selection of dining options.
From Arizona’s rich topography of forests, parks, and wilderness areas to its ‘sky islands’ surrounded by plant and animal life ecosystems, there’s something to excite your senses when you visit the iconic Grand Canyon State.