Monsoon 2021: Precipitation outlook a tossup for much of Arizona

The National Weather Service’s outlook on precipitation odds for the 2021 monsoon pretty much amounts to a three-way coin flip.

The weather service’s Flagstaff office said there’s only a "slight tilt" toward drier than normal conditions this monsoon season across eastern Arizona but otherwise equal chances for above average, near average and below-average rainfall across western and central Arizona.

Monsoon season officially started on June 15.

The 2020 monsoon set records for being dry and warm, with most of the state receiving near or less than 30% of the average seasonal rainfall.

The season was the driest ever for Flagstaff and the 13th driest for Phoenix.

MORE: NWS: Excessive Heat Warning issued for 14 Arizona counties

Driving safety during monsoon storms

Monsoon has approached in Arizona, in which it is time to prepare for heavy rain, flash flooding, and strong winds. 

Each Monsoon, their are plenty of dust storms.

Last year's Monsoon season was one the driest on record. 

Doug Nick from Arizona Department of Transportation, has safety advice on driving during the monsoon season.

"Safely check your surroundings and pull off the freeway the best you can keep your lights off and so forth and wait until it passes."


Road Conditions

  • Call 511 anywhere in Arizona or 1-888-411-ROAD (7623)

Driving in extreme temperatures

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s tips for driving in extreme temperatures include: 

Have sun protection: In addition to an umbrella, take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

Fuel up: Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

Hydrate: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.

Get help: If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows.

Wait safely: If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible. Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement. If you are stopped along the highway, raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights. Please keep in mind that parking in tall brush can start a fire. 

Check your vehicle: You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of under-inflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.



Rain/flood safety tips

The American Red Cross' tips for heavy rain situations and flood safety:

Turnaround don’t drown! If you must drive and you encounter a flooded roadway, turn around and go another way.

If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.

Tune in to your local radio, NOAA radio, or news channels for the latest updates.

If your neighborhood is prone to flooding, be prepared to evacuate quickly.

Follow evacuation orders and do not attempt to return until officials say it is safe.

If power lines are down, do not step in puddles or standing water.

If power is out, use a flashlight. Do not use any open flame as alternate lighting.


Preparing for a severe thunderstorm 

The American Red Cross' tips for preparing for a severe thunderstorm:

Put together an emergency kit.

Know your community’s evacuation plan.

Create a household disaster plan and practice it.

Purchase a battery-powered or hand-crank radio

Discuss thunderstorm safety with members of your household. Be aware that a thunderstorm could produce flooding.

Pick a safe place in your home for household members to gather during a thunderstorm. This should be a place where there are no windows, skylights, or glass doors, which could be broken by strong winds or hail and cause damage or injury.

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