I arrived in Arizona just fine on the flight made possible by John McCain so I’m posting from Phoenix today. Arizona continues to surprise me. It’s summertime so we’re in that half of the year when the clocks align with the Pacific states. Arizona does not recognize Daylight Saving Time, as I’ve explained in a previous post. Fortunately I already know that so I wasn’t embarrassed by this phenomenon as I was a number of years ago. No, this time the surprise was the weather.
Before I left on this trip, it seemed that everyone wanted to remind me rather sarcastically that “it’s a dry heat.” Yes, and so’s an oven. That’s what I was expecting to find when I hopped on that plane and dropped down into the desert a few hours later. But we’re in the monsoon season here. I’d absolutely love a DRY heat right now. Yesterday it hit 108 degrees with a dew point at 68. That’s just nasty.
This is a view from downtown Phoenix looking towards South Mountain. Notice the clouds. This doesn’t seem like something that should be in the desert. Thunderstorms are rocking southern and central Arizona. Just a week ago there was flooding nearby (it seems everywhere I go this summer I’m running into flooding… what’s up with that?). Weather patterns have changed.
The monsoon generally arrives in Arizona by the first or second week of July and will last well into September. While it’s not as pronounced as the famous monsoons in India, it has the same basic underlying characteristic: a seasonal change in prevailing winds. The winds shift so that they originate from the south or southeast, pumping moisture up from the Sea of Cortez, the Pacific Ocean or perhaps even the Gulf of Mexico. It runs along the hot desert floor to create tremendous afternoon thunderstorms. It’s not a constant torrential downpour like monsoons in other parts of the world. It’s not even every day or in every location. When it does hit though, it’s with a ferocious intensity.