Arizona monsoon season has begun: Here’s what you need to know

This post was written by Cassie Gannis.


Monsoon season has officially begun in Arizona! Each year, first responders work together to make sure crews are ready to respond to this severe storm weather. Severe weather can pop up without a moment’s notice. You really need to be prepared for flash flooding, dust storms (also known as haboobs), and severe thunderstorms.

During monsoon season, flash flooding can be very unpredictable. Flash flooding is rapid flooding to low-lying areas like washes, rivers, dry lakes and basins. It may be caused by heavy rain associated with severe thunderstorms. Flash flooding can occur within minutes of rainfall, turning washes into real dangers. When it is raining—and especially during monsoon season—DO NOT ENTER A FLASH FLOOD AREA! Here is a video of Lost Dutchman Blvd and Goldfield Road in Arizona minutes after rain hits the valley. It’s dangerous!

Always obey “flood warning” signs and turn around. Most flash flood deaths occur in vehicles, so never drive into a large puddle or a flooded area. Moving water one to two feet deep will carry away most vehicles. Keep children away from creeks and washes when heavy rain is in the area. Be especially careful at night, when water depth and road conditions are harder to see and estimate.

Dust storms or haboobs can pop up suddenly during monsoon season. A wall of dust can be as wide as a hundred miles. Dust storms can reduce visibility to zero in seconds! A dust storm is very similar to a snow whiteout in winter times. A dust storm can quickly result in deadly, multi-vehicle accidents on roadways. While driving in a dust storm, turn on your headlights. If you pull off the road, turn off your lights and keep your foot off the brake. Wait until visibility improves to get back on the road. If you keep your lights on, drivers behind you assume you are still on the road and follow you—leading to wrecks and even multi-car pileups.

Here’s a list of important items to keep in your vehicle during monsoon season:

  • Umbrella: An umbrella will keep occupants dry.

  • First aid kit: A medical kit can come handy for bruises and first aid when required.

  • Water and towels: I keep at least a gallon of water in my car to stay hydrated in emergencies. I like CoolTowels for various reasons. They take no preparation, no refrigeration and no water source. Cool Towels are used by most disaster response and first responders. You may also need to clean your windshield because it can become very dirty during these storms. Pour water on the windshield and wipe it clean with the cloth. Use the wipers to clear up the glass.

  • Phone and phone charger: I keep my ToughTested chargers with me at all times. They are waterproof, rustproof, and highly durable.

  • Flashlight: The ToughTested Utility Flashlight With USB Port is my go to in my truck and for my team when traveling because it functions as a flashlight, beacon, powerbank, and emergency flare.

Other important things to remember are indoor and outdoor safety. When indoors, stay away from windows, use surge protectors, and don’t use a landline telephone except for emergencies. If you absolutely have to go outside, stay away from metal, water, open spaces, and tall objects during lighting storms and always seek low ground. Do not hide under a tree. Always remember low ground is safer. Stay inside your car if a power line has fallen and stay at least 100 feet away from downed power lines.

Stay safe out there!