• Arizona
  • Thursday , Feb 1 , 2018

Area Info

3 minutes reading time (557 words)

Monsoon Madness


A break in the summer sun and soaring temperatures give way to monsoon clouds around the valley. Beginning in the middle of June and stretching into September, Arizona's monsoon season can bring wild changes in the weather. What begins as a nice warm day in the morning can turn into dangerous blowing dust, lightning and flash flooding.

To those not familiar with the wild and wicked nature of a monsoon storm it can be quite frightening. How quickly the weather changes, how much rain, dust, and lighting it can produce, and how much damage a micro-burst can cause. So how can people stay safe during monsoon season?

Soon the news will be full of stories of unsuspecting motorists who attempt to cross what appears as a slightly flooded roadway or a typically dry creek bed with a small trickle of water running. Only to be caught in a flash flood, their vehicle partially submerged as they stand atop their car waiting for help.

In 1995, Arizona enacted the "Stupid Motorist Law." The law made it possible for drivers who enter water-covered roadways that are barricaded due to flooding to be held liable for the cost of emergency response. So how can you avoid becoming a "Stupid Motorist?"

First, never enter a low-lying flooded roadway. Monsoons' can create a flash flood unleashing powerful torrents of debris ranging in size from sand to boulders. These floods can contain as little as 20% water and can come from miles away, even if it is not raining where you are. Flowing at over 20 MPH, it takes only 6 inches of water to reach the bottom of a passenger car. Twelve inches of water can float most passenger cars and twenty-four inches of water can move most vehicles, including Suvs and Pick-ups.

Driving around barricades is illegal and dangerous. Never attempt to cross a roadway with flowing water. Remember - TURN AROUND DON'T DROWN. More info @ moosoonsafety.org

Lightning & Thunder
When lightning and thunder are present in a storm, get inside. There is no safe place outside during a lightning storm. If it is less than 30 seconds between the flash of lightning and the sound of thunder then the lighting is less than 6 miles away. But you're not safe. Lighting can strike out as far as 10 miles from the storm.

If someone is struck by lightning call 911 immediately.

Don't forget your pets, bring them in as well to keep them safe. Unplug expensive electronics, don't touch wiring, and avoid holding corded phones.

If your home is hit by lightning call 911 immediately.

Prepare for temporary power outages with flashlights or other battery lights. Avoid candles for the obvious fire hazard.

Arizona's famous dust storms, are when a curtain of dust blows across the valley. Haboobs can be extremely dangerous to drivers when visibility drops to near nothing. The best thing to do if caught in a blinding dust storm is;
  • Pull over to the side of the road safely.
  • Turn off lights and taillights
  • Put your car in park
  • Take your foot off the brake (brake lights not illuminated).

Most dust storms are short-lived, wait it out to safety. For more tips see pullasidestayalive.org

These helpful tips are provided by San Tan Valley's hometown fire department, Rural Metro Fire
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