Monsoon Season in AZ: Stay Prepared, Stay Safe

Katelyn Preston July 8, 2016

The monsoon season is officially in full swing. According to the latest weather forecasts, the Valley might witness everything that makes for a messy season — blowing dust, dangerous lightning, heavy rainfall, and powerful winds that can cause serious damages to your home and yard.

You don’t have to think back far to remember how destructive our monsoons can be. In September 2014, Hurricane Norbert stormed past the valley, causing floods that were deemed some of the worst the Valley has ever seen.

With flash flood warnings in effect for several areas across Arizona, it’s important to be extra cautious, especially if you encounter any nasty weather conditions while on the road. To make sure you and your loved ones are safe during the monsoon season, here are some weather advisories that come with monsoons and tips to keep in mind.

High winds

During a monsoon or severe storm, winds can often exceed 40 mph and straight-line winds can gust in excess of 100 mph — at such speed, these winds can cause extensive property damage. To steer clear of accidents during high winds, you should remember these things:

  • High winds can blow heavy debris that could shatter your glass windows, causing injury to those around. To avoid this, stay away from windows and move into a central interior room if high winds are present.
  • If you are on the road during high winds, avoid walking or driving through them. Take shelter inside a sturdy building to avoid being hit by flying debris or passing vehicles. In some cases, it may be necessary to stop well off of the roadway and wait for the storm to pass. 
  • If you have large trees close to your home, check them for potential hazards such as dead or rotting branches that hang over your house’s roof. These hazards need to be removed immediately as they cannot withstand strong winds.

Thunderstorms and lightning

Thunderstorms can be fatal so you should ideally look for shelter — such as a sturdy building or an enclosed hard-topped vehicle — if you’re out and about when one strikes. Remember, if you can hear thunder, then you are close enough to be struck by lightning. The best advice for times like this is: head indoors and stay there until the rumbles are infrequent (at least 30 minutes in between).

Among other things, telephone lines and metal pipes conduct electricity. Avoid doing the following things during a thunder and lightning storm:

  • Using corded phones and appliances (even cordless phones can cause a shock when lightning strikes nearby. Therefore, use cellular phones for emergencies only!)
  • Taking showers and baths or using running water
  • Coming in contact with any type of wiring and plumbing
  • Swimming in pools or other bodies of water

Floods

According to the National Weather Service, vehicle-related mishaps make up nearly half of all flood fatalities. It’s safest to stay indoors if your area is under flash flood watch. However, if you must venture out, remember these tips to stay sage:

  • Avoid driving into a flooded roadway at all costs. You wouldn’t know how deep the running water is or how strong a current is present.
  • Never drive around barricades. They are generally put up around areas where heavy flooding is anticipated or that are flooded already. Roads around such areas are likely to be unsafe for driving. Use common sense and obey traffic barricades!
  • Be especially careful never to touch a downed power line on anything near it. They can be energized and thus, fatal. At least 100 feet away from any downed lines is the safest distance to keep as high voltage can even travel through the ground.
  • Stop children from playing near storm drains after any rainfall; it is possible that they may be swept off in the rushing water draining from your community’s streets and yards.

Some additional tips:

  • Turn off all unnecessary electrical equipment during storms to reduce the burden on power supply.
  • Since the risk of power failure is high during these times, remember to have a stash of batteries, a working battery-powered radio or television, flashlights and candles within arm’s reach for when the light go out.
  • Before the storm hits, pack an emergency kit with food, clothes, water, daily medications, and other necessities in case you have to leave your home due to flooding or a power outage.

Monsoon season in Arizona can be a scary time – even more so if you’re not prepared. By following these simple tips and staying informed, however, you’ll be well on your way to weathering the storms like a champ.