What’s wet, windy and hot all over? Monsoons! We hear of them hitting the Southwest often, but what are they exactly? In general, a monsoon is a season with hot temperatures and abundant moisture that happens in the Southwest, when moist air pushes north from the Pacific Ocean and Gulf of California. You can get strong winds, flooding, dust storms, even dry lightning from June to September.
What strikes me the most about monsoon season is how you can get so much needed moisture into such an arid region in a matter of months. It’s the main time when parts of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah get much of their rainfall for the entire year. According to the University of Arizona, the region receives more than 40% of their annual rainfall.
I spent two years at Arizona State University and it was during this time that I experienced my first monsoon season. Now if you haven’t been to the desert in general, I think it is beautiful, with the acacia and mesquite trees and cacti dotting the landscape. However, I was definitely not prepared for what was to come! During my time in Arizona, I experienced an incredible dust storm, or haboob. Until then, I had just seen the wet and humid side of monsoons, but the haboob was mind blowing. I remember watching it from a distance, and with it, the visibility dropped dramatically. Gone from view were the acacia and mesquite trees and cacti I enjoyed out in the distance, instead all you could were swirling waves of dust. It was terrifying and awe-inspiring at the same time.