Maybe it is because we are in the midst of an extended drought. We never had a winter this year. Our last significant rainfall came at the end of the monsoons last September. But this year we seem to be more on edge, more expectant than other years for the impending moisture.
Arizona, and many parts of the Southwest experience summer storms. Clouds gather during the day. Horizons darken. Humidity builds. Later in the afternoon rumbles of thunder can be heard. They edge closer, grow in volume. Soon a lightning bolt crosses the sky. People gasp as they watch the arcs of electricity. Rain begins to fall, first light and in patches eventually; with the “good” monsoons” the rain pours down. Puddles become rivulets which race across the parking lots. Eventually the rain moves on. Rainbows, particularly as the sun begins to sink, appear.
Like everything, however wonderful, Arizona monsoons do have their dark side. Intense monsoons bring on flash floods. Our roads are crossed by dry creek beds. Most of the time, these are merely annoying dips in the road. There are warning signs in front of them, “Do Not Cross in High Water.”
Flash floods can be deadly. Several years ago there were several groups of tourists were washed through slot canyons near Page. Last year, on my July 15 birthday, a family reunion in a swimming hole near Payson, 60 miles from here, turned tragic when nine family members were washed away, and drowned. The irony then was the weather in Payson was sunny. The storm which caused the flash flood occurred miles away. There was almost nothing to warn the family of impending disaster. Several times tourists have drowned in slot canyons in Page, near the Utah border in monsoon-related flash floods.
But right now, as temperatures climb well past 105, and our near-zero humidity hits double digits, we are all speculating on the onset of the monsoons. The temperature drop of sometimes almost 30 degrees, the welcome moisture, the fresh winds, we love these. We will gaze in wonder at the myriad of rainbows that pop up. we will breathe in clear, dust-free air once again. Our thirsty wildlife, bees, birds, beetles and javelina, will be able to find renewed sources of drinking water. The seemingly unbearable Arizona heat will feel more bearable.
Just wait. In a week or two Facebook will bloom with gorgeous rainbows, breathtaking sunsets. We will share our monsoon experiences with all of you, not lucky enough to see it firsthand.
And next year, around the Fourth of July, we will again be waiting for the monsoons!
"With all the beauty surrounding me here above the Verde Valley, how could I not create more beauty?"