It’s officially the rainiest time of the year – Arizona’s monsoon season has begun.
Monday’s rain ended a 118-day dry streak in Phoenix, where no measurable rainfall had been recorded since March 11th, making it a tie from 1904 for the sixth-longest dry streak.
Arizona monsoon season is from June 15th-Sept. 30th, although our first storms in the Valley usually start popping up in early July. During our thunderstorm season, the summer rains bring much-needed moisture and cooler evenings. Although the rain is intense, it is short-lived and actually freshens the air. Locals recognize the musky, earthy smell of the monsoon season that comes from the coating on the leaves of the creosote bush. Ironically, the Spanish name for creosote is hediondilla, which loosely translates to little stinker.
Expect to see more Gila monsters come out to play on these nights of high humidity. According to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Gila monster lizards live in washes that extend down into the valley. Don’t be surprised to spot a tarantula too, they love this time of year and they’re out enjoying the weather like everyone else.
On some occasions, a severe storm may spawn a microburst, but more often high winds, dust, and severe downpours result in temporary flash floods. Despite only receiving 12.5 inches of rain a year, we tend to get it all at once and on average, the Valley gets just shy of 3 inches of rain during monsoon season.
Although visitors may be disappointed with the weather forecast, we welcome the cloudy skies and the brief bout of humidity as we savor the break from the 100+ degree heat. Grab an umbrella, fake a rain dance and look up at the rare wonder of the precipitation confetti falling from the Arizona sky.