Thursday, July 13, 2006

Guess What? It's Hot.

We had a heat advisory here today in Arizona. Because some people might not know that in July in Arizona it gets hot. It was 110 today, and we had a record low: 91. It was the warmest low for this date.

We’re now into the monsoon season, which means between now and the middle of September our humidity jumps from about 15% to 30%, and we get amazing thunder and lightning shows each night.

Now, for your meteorology lesson of the day. The monsoon season officially begins when the dew point stays at 55 or above for three consecutive days. This happened on July 4 this year, three days before the “official” start date of July 7. This reflects the seasonal shift in wind patterns, brining up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California. We generally get 2-3 inches of rain during the monsoon season, but last year we got hardly anything.

Despite all the cool special effects in the sky at night, there are some drawbacks. We get dust storms—also known by the Arabic term “haboob”, which is way cooler sounding than dust storm—preceding thunderstorms. Check out my previous post on the topic. What happens is rain-cooled air pours down from the high country into the desert like a small cold front, pushing a wall of dust in front of it and forcing the hot and humid air up into the atmosphere creating thunderstorms above the Valley.

Sometimes, however, we get downbursts or microbursts where the air can thrust downward at a rate exceeding 100 MPH. I’ve seen it take out a whole line of telephone poles like they were matchsticks.

The coolest thing about all of this is that it’s pretty random. You never know where a dust storm, microburst or down pour will happen. TV shows get interrupted for weather updates, and we get those emergency broadcasts. I’d only ever seen one of those when I lived in California, and that was after an earthquake. Here, I couldn’t count how many I’ve heard.

Makes life interesting. And if I can figure out how to get any pictures of lightning with my digital camera, I’ll post them. Don’t hold your breath, though.


  1. Surprise is opening a new High School this year and my son and I were on the naming committee. Guess what the school will be called? Valley Vista High School, Home of the Monsoons! (yep! My idea) What's tougher than an Arizona monsoon? the mascot is a twister wearing a scowl, football helmet and cleats, clutching a football. Really cool. The logo is a thunderstorm with a lightening bolt through it.

  2. It's hot here in Arkansas too....sticky hot! UGH

  3. Ahhhh, I'm in the refreshing pines. Not really. It's still warm here, especially considering most people don't have AC and it's hovering between 85-90. Thanks for the meteorology lesson. Any relation to Bill Bellis?

  4. Cindy, I love the mascot! How cool!

    Robin, I don't envy you the humidity.

    Georgiana, I'm still jealous! And, yeah, I love weather, especially after living in California where it was pretty boring.

  5. JEN!! When we were driving back from CAlifornia and came through your neck of the wildnerness, there was dust storm, complete with strong winds and tons of rain. It was the most confused weather I've ever seen. :-D

    North Texas heat, praise God, dumps the humidity. So, we just have hot, dry heat.

  6. Hey girl! Wish I could see some of the lightning. I miss storms. I always loved watching them in Florida.

    It's hot here too. Not to bad but supposed to be worse tomorrow--around a hundred. I may go live at the mall for the day. LOL!

  7. A 110? Ugh! I'm glad I didn't stay in Vegas. Visiting for a few weeks was enough. Glad I lived there through the winter.

    Of course 92 degrees with a lot of humidity is still to come for me. Gotta love those sticky August and September days. :(