It is Day 1 of Arizona's 2009 Monsoon Season - Just what is a Monsoon?

Last year I posted this article under "Monsoon Season is Here! Get Ready for Some Wild Arizona Weather"

I've decided to repost it because many of my clients, looking to relocate to Sun City Grand, Sun City Festival, Sun City West or one of the many other Arizona golf retirement communities, have asked me, "What is a monsoon?". Since today is the 1st official day of the 2009 Arizona monsoon season I thought I would share my personal experience with a monsoon here in our fair city of Surprise Arizona.

I should add that although this is officially Day 1 of the new monsoon season, the weather forecasters are telling us it will be awhile before we see our first storm.

For years before moving here I heard about the Arizona monsoon season from my sister-in-law. She would tell me about the atmospheric pressure building up, the rising humidity levels, and the lightning. She'd also tell me about the dust storms that would most often preceed the rains. Then she explained that you wanted the rain because that would cool things off and the "pressure" would be relieved. And last but not least, she would end her musings with how much she enjoyed the monsoon season.

Living in Seattle, and not having experienced an Arizona monsoon storm first hand, I really had no concept of what to expect after moving here..

Before 2008, the beginning of the monsoon season was determined by having three consecutive days with dew points of at least 55 degrees. (HUH? In Seattle we had 10 different names for varying degrees of precipitation but this AZ weather terminology was a whole different animal).

Last year the National Weather Service decided to change it to set dates beginning June 15 and ending Sept. 30. That ends the weather service's decades-old system of using dew points to mark the onset of our summer thunderstorms.

As a side note, the earliest start to the traditional monsoon came on June 16, 1925; the latest arrival was July 25, 1987. The average start is usually mid-July.

Now for the first hand experience part... When my sister-in-law would tell me about the dust storms that typically preceed the rainfall, I was thinking a little wind that of course would bring with it a little dust. We live in the desert after all. There is no shortage of dust.

I was completely unprepared for the realty of my first dust storm. You may have seen pictures of one of our annual storms since we quite often get national coverage of the sight. Picture a wall of dust several miles high and even more miles wide rolling up I-10 from Mexico, through Tucson and headed to Phoenix. Can't picture it? Not a problem. Look at the picture below for mini version.

It is quite a sight to behold and "dust storm" does not begin to describe it. I was caught in the middle of one. The "dust" was actually heavy red clay/sand. I couldn't see two feet in front of my car. I was terrified someone would run into the back of my parked car since I had to pull over and stop in the middle of the street. I was almost at an intersection and at times I could just make out the light as it would turn red or green. No one dared to move for about 5 minutes. It started to let up just enough for some of the cars to move around the corner. My turn. I turned right, moving MAYBE 20 feet, and found myself out of the "dust".

I started to breath a sigh of relief, but then the rain drops came. Just enough to turn all that red clay/sand on my windshield into a big mud smear on my windshield. My wipers got a furious workout and thank heavens I had enough fluid in the reservoir to clean it up enough to get home. WOW!!! The only other time I was that scared was when I was in a Fresno fog you could cut with a knife. Just another reminder... we musn't fool with mother nature! And having said that, I know it doesn't compare with what mother nature dishes out in the midwest or other parts of the country. But still, I had no idea living in the desert could dish up some excitement.

One of the parts of monsoon season that my husband and I love, besides the chance of rain, is the light show. Every night the weather reporters tell us of the hundreds of lightening strikes in the last hours. With our unobstructed views here in the valley, mother nature puts on quite a show. We open up our blinds and turn off the lights and watch the bolts of lightning light up the sky all around us.

An unfortunate result of this are horrible forest fires up to the north of us and brush fires that are sometimes difficult to put out because of the hot, dry conditions.



Now, having lived here for the last 7 years, I have to say I too LOVE the monsoon season. I wouldn't relish getting caught in another dust storm, but the summer storms that roll through our area were an unexpected NICE surprise for me.

Living close to the White Tank Mountains affords us some spectacular sunset views with colors you can't imagine. And the clouds that roll through, during our stormy seasons, only add to the interest.

I think people have preconceived ideas of what living in the desert is like. I know I did.

Sometime this winter I may write about how much I love my fireplace. Yes, you read right. Some of us have fireplaces in the Arizona low desert. And those that do have come to appreciate them. More later.






If you are in the market to buy or sell a home in one of the Phoenix west valley active retirement golf communities, please call me or visit my website Here you will find information on homes for sale in Sun City Grand Surprise Arizona, resales in Corte Bella, Sun City Festival real estate, Arizona Traditions MLS listings, Trilogy at Vistancia and Sun City West, PLUS see a map of the Surprise AZ area retirement communities. Don't hesitate to call or email if you have questions.

Kathy Anderson, kathyandersonrealtor,, real estate & homes for sale in the Phoenix Arizona west valley retirement communities

Subscribe to my blog feed

Ken Meade Realty
Sun City Grand Office

(602) 703-8930

Comment balloon 3 commentsKathy Anderson • June 15 2009 03:14PM
It is Day 1 of Arizona's 2009 Monsoon Season - Just what is a Monsoon?
Last year I posted this article under "Monsoon Season is Here! Get Ready for Some Wild Arizona Weather" I've decided to repost it because many of my clients, looking to relocate to Sun City Grand, Sun City Festival, Sun City West or… more
Sun City West - Dance for Fun! (and the Health of It)
Last summer I first wrote about a dance class in Sun City West I had heard of called Dance for the Health of It At the time there were just a couple of classes being conducted in Sun City West and a few in some of the surrounding areas. &… more
Have Fun Bowling at Sun City West's Johnson Lanes
Way back when I was in my 20's I bowled on a league team and had loads of fun. Well this weekend I had a chance to bowl for the first time in years at the Johnson Lanes in Sun City West My husband, who is the manager of the Fletcher Music… more
Top 10 Reasons you might want to retire to Sun City Grand Arizona
Each one of Arizona's active retirement communities has something to offer. And, each has its' own unique ambience. When trying to decide which community is the best fit for you, you need to ask yourself, "What kind of lifestyle am I looking… more
Corte Bella Short Sales in Real Estate
What is a short sale? I have clients ask me this all the time since we do come across them in our Arizona retirement communities from time to time. The following is a definition of short sales that I borrowed from Wikipedia "A short… more
Sun City Grand Real Estate, 15002 W Wrigley Way, Surprise AZ
Highly Upgraded Sun City Grand Home - Large Front Courtyard & Almost 1/4 Acre Lot Address: 15002 W Wrigley Way, Surprise, AZ 85374 Arizona Retirement Community: Sun City Grand Sq. Ft. : 1706 List Price: $229, 000 MLS # 4175356 &… more
Sun City Grand Homes for Sale - 15565 W Camino Real Way, Surprise AZ…
SUN CITY GRAND HOME - Extended Patio & Large Front Courtyard Address: 15565 W Camino Real Way, Surprise, AZ 85374 Active Adult Community: Sun City Grand Sq. Ft. : 2035 List Price: $265, 000 MLS # 4075936 Description: This… more
Sun City West Sound Barrier Wall a Go!
In case you missed the news like I did… according to the Maricopa County Department of Transportation it looks as though Sun City West will get the sound barrier wall they want. The proposed wall will cut back on noise from the adjoining Loop-303… more
Start Building a Green Surprise… (Arizona, that is)
Yesterday, September 3rd, 2008, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) named the city of Surprise a "Greening Greater Phoenix Community, " "This is quite an honor to have Surprise recognized for its availability of green… more
Sun City West, Arizona - Why This Might be the Active Retirement…
Are you thinking about a move to Sun City West, Arizona? Do you need more information on the community? Well, there are many websites devoted to making sure you get all the information you need on one of Arizona's most popular active adult… more