People living in colder parts of the country are always anxious to hear horror stories about summer in Tucson but the subject of Monsoon Season only comes up when it’s so hot here no one is very eager to come experience it with us. Sam Hughes Inn Bed & Breakfast has now endured 16 monsoon seasons and is half way through the 17th. We love monsoon.
In our first year of bed & breakfast business Tucson experienced the earliest arrival of monsoon season in history, June 17. Until a few years ago, the arrival of monsoon was calculated on the dew point reaching 55 degrees or more for three consecutive days. The rain almost always began after that third day. Now monsoon season has been designated June 15 until September 30, whether it’s dry or wet, and a more average first rainfall occurs around the first week of July.
Some visitors think we exaggerate the intensity of monsoon storms because they experience heavy rains throughout the year in their own home states. But monsoon can be either hours of gentle rainfall or it can produce violent winds that uproot trees and down power lines. Thousands of lightning strikes can cause fires to flare up in multiple locations and create hazardous conditions for people on the ground. Flooding fills our usually empty river beds to overflowing, and even some unlucky houses in low lying areas. On the campus of the University of Arizona you’ll find metal barricades across the step-down areas of some buildings to help keep the water from rushing under the doors.. People who live here love the frequent showers especially since they often cause the temperature to drop 25 or 30 degrees in minutes. Then our famous “dry heat” is replaced by the not so welcome “humidity”.
Tucson receives half of its yearly rainfall during monsoon season; at least that’s the hoped for outcome, and so far 2016 appears to be on track. Storm clouds build up in enormous and beautiful designs and can appear any time of the day. A perfect blue sky can suddenly turn dark as night and claps of thunder can build slowly to ear shattering intensity in minutes. It is dangerous and exciting at the same time bringing a welcome change from the 100 degree days of June, at least for short periods of time..
A recurring feature of monsoon season is Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law“. If a driver goes around a barricade on a flooded street and becomes stranded, he/she can be charged for being rescued. And yet a number of drivers attempt this maneuver every year and in some cases with disastrous results when the car is swept away..
Monsoon season is full of drama, from the first Cumulonimbus clouds poking up over the mountain tops, & the heavy rainfalls, to some of the most beautiful sunsets on earth.