Monsoon season, which is active mid-June through late September, adds moisture to the extreme summer heat, ramping up humidity. These combine to create perfect conditions for thunderstorms, including heavy rain, high winds and lightning, a potential trigger for dust storms, flash floods and wildfires.
Besides the storms, the heat alone can be life threatening, especially to those who work outside, people over 65, children under five, and those with pre-existing medical conditions. Know the signs of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Reduce exposure to the sun and heat during peak hours.
The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs has partnered with the National Weather Service; the Arizona departments of Agriculture, Health Services, Homeland Security, Insurance, Public Safety, Transportation and Water Resources; and The Salvation Army to advocate severe weather preparedness. Arizonans are encouraged to take the following actions in preparation for the season:
Plan: Write a communication plan. The plan should identify a family meeting place, evacuation routes away from the house, and an out-of-town contact. Practice the plan with your family.
Prepare: Assemble an emergency supplies kit with enough non-perishable food and potable water to last your family, including pets, for 72 hours. Include a first aid kit, radio, flashlight, batteries, cash, cell phone charger, and copies of important documents.
Inquire: Know what hazards threaten your community. Ask your work and child’s school about their emergency plans. Bookmark EIN.az.gov for emergency updates and preparedness information.
Inspire: Be a preparedness example to your community. Give blood, learn first aid, volunteer, and talk to others about what you have learned about preparedness.
Turn Around, Don’t Drown
Due to the geographic composition of our state, the weather can vary dramatically from region to region. When traveling thoughout the state pay special attention to weather reports, not only the current conditions, but the conditions forecasted for the areas you are traveling through and for your final destination.
Heavy monsoon rains can lead to flash flooding. Don’t underestimate the power of water. Six inches of fast moving water can knock down an adult, and 18 inches of water can carry most vehicles away. Avoid low water crossings and areas that are already flooded. Never drive around barricades or attempt to cross streets with flowing water.
Pull Aside, Stay Alive
Strong monsoon winds can create large downbursts of air, creating dense blowing clouds of dust and reduce visibility to near zero in seconds.
If you are caught in a dust storm pull your vehicle off the roadway, place your vehicle in park, turn off your vehicle’s lights, and take your foot off the brake. Remain inside your vehicle with your seatbelt fastened and wait for the storm to pass.
When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors
Typically summertime leads to family vacations and outdoor activities. Whether it’s swimming, hiking, biking, or any other outdoor activity pay attention to changes in the clouds and weather updates. Summer storms can move quickly and can be deadly.
Lightning can strike from 10 miles away and can spark fires which spread quickly if accompanied by high winds. If you can hear thunder, lightning is close enough to strike. If a storm approaches, head indoors or seek shelter, and remain indoors for at least 30 minutes after a storm passes before going back outside. This allows for a safe distance to be created from lightning or storm conditions to dissipate.
Interested in learning more about ways to be prepared for monsoon season? Check out these additional resources for more information:
- Monsoon Awareness Flyer
- National Weather Service
- Arizona Department of Homeland Security
- Arizona Department of Insurance
- Arizona Department of Agriculture
- Arizona Department of Health Services
Beat the Heat: