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Monsoon Season Starts with a Blast of Heat
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15 June 2017  

It’s Monsoon Safety Awareness Week (June 11-16), and Thursday, June 15, is the official start of Monsoon Season. The season will last until September 30. 

Deciding when it was monsoon season before 2008 was a bit trickier. There had to be three consecutive days when the dew point averaged 55 degrees or higher. But in 2008, the National Weather Service decided to declare a specific period of time as monsoon season, beginning on June 15 and ending on September 30. 

That doesn’t mean we’re guaranteed a summer shower exactly on June 15. Quite the contrary, instead, this year we’re looking at temperatures into the 90s and climbing higher into next week. 

Dr. Curtis James from Embry Riddle, reports, "Forecasts are indicating record to near record heat this Sunday through at least the middle of next week. Some moisture could seep into Arizona from the east next week, leading to high-based thunderstorms capable of producing gusty winds but very little rain (a recipe for more wildfires). See attached NWS Briefing and make sure you are prepared!”

 

James won’t be here to enjoy the warm temperatures, however. "Unfortunately I won’t be around to suffer the heat along with all of you. I’ll be in Iceland attending a meteorology conference and riding a snowmobile.”

From the Yavapai County Community Health Services

As temperatures across the state of Arizona are expected to reach record levels this weekend Yavapai County Emergency Management and Yavapai County Community Health Services would like to remind residents to take the necessary precautions to prevent serious health effects such as heat exhaustion and other heat related injuries or medical complications.

 

Please remember NEVER leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles. It is best to leave your pets at home if you cannot take them in with you. Even in cool temperatures, cars can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. Even with the windows cracked open, interior temperatures can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit above outside temperatures within the first 10 minutes. Anyone left inside is at risk for serious heat-related illnesses or even death. Children who are left unattended in parked cars are at greatest risk for heat stroke, and possibly death.

When traveling with children, remember to do the following:

o   Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open. To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.

o   When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.

Additional sites with great preparedness information listed below:

Arizona Department of Health Services http://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/heat-illness

Arizona Emergency Information Network https://ein.az.gov/emergency-information-heat-warning-across-arizona

National Weather Service http://www.weather.gov/rah/heat

Salvation Army in Phoenix http://www.salvationarmyphoenix.org

About the Monsoon Season

The National Weather Service (NWS) explains, "It is important to note that the monsoon is not an individual thunderstorm. While the word 'monsoon' accurately conjures up images of torrential rains and flooding, calling a single thunderstorm a "monsoon" is incorrect. A monsoon is a large scale weather pattern which causes our summer thunderstorms."

According to the Arizona State Climate Office at Arizona State University (ASU), monsoon rain activity accounts for roughly half the annual precipitation in central Arizona, and 2/3-3/4 of the annual precipitation in southern Arizona. You can expect short-lived and intense thunderstorms, which can result in flash floods in steep terrain and areas where wild fires have burned vegetation. Low-lying roads and normally dry washes can also fill quickly and flood. 

The NWS offers a summary of weather terms and advisories they offer during the monsoon season: 

Weather Terms

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Conditions are favorable for widespread thunderstorms with damaging winds and even large hail to develop. These are usually issued only when an especially active day is expected. Watch weather reports and conditions closely.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: A thunderstorm with damaging winds of 60 mph or greater is about to occur, or is already underway. These winds could also produce a dust storm with visibilities below ¼ mile. Hail over 3/4" in diameter or larger is also possible. Take cover now! Note that heavy rain doesn't always accompany a severe thunderstorm. 

Dust Storm Warning: A dust storm, with visibilities of ¼ mile or less, is about to strike, or has already developed. Pull off the road now! Wind gusts between 40 and 60 mph are also likely. If winds associated with a dust storm are 60 mph or greater, then a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued instead.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been sited and is still on the ground, or is about to develop based on radar information. Take cover now!

Flash Flood Watch: Conditions are favorable for flash flooding over large or multiple areas of the region. These are usually issued only when an especially active day is expected. Watch weather reports and conditions closely.

Flash Flood Warning: Life-threatening, rapid flooding is about to occur, or is already underway. Move to higher ground now! It is particularly dangerous to be in a low lying area or near a wash.

Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory: Minor flooding is expected or underway in low lying and flood prone areas. While it may not be life threatening, extreme caution is advised, particularly for motorists. The same flash flood safety rules apply.

Hazardous Weather Outlook: Issued anytime there is a risk of strong winds, heavy rain, flash flooding, and/or dust storms. These outlooks provide advanced and detailed information on what the main thunderstorm hazards are expected to be, how widespread, and when.