PHOENIX - For Arizona, the monsoon season officially kicks off on June 15, and ends on Sept. 30.
This means that as of Aug. 10, the state is halfway through 2022's monsoon season.
Here's what you should know about the 2022 monsoon season, and, in the words of experts, its impact on the Grand Canyon State.
Wait a minute. Monsoon has a start and end date now?
According to the University of Arizona's Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) program website, officials with the National Weather Service decided in 2008 to consider a time period from June 15 to September 30 as the U.S. Southwest monsoon season.
Prior to 2008, a different standard was used that was based on dew points being above a certain level for three days or more.
What causes the monsoon season?
According to officials with the National Weather Service's Flagstaff office, the term "monsoon" describes "large-scale wind shifts that transport moist tropical air to dry desert locations, such as the southwestern United States."
"Intense heating of the land over Mexico and the southwestern United States in the early summer months creates the wind shifts in the low levels. Moisture begins to be carried off of the Gulf of California and eastern Pacific Ocean (the two main sources for monsoonal moisture in northern Arizona). These winds transport moisture northward into Mexico and the American Southwest," read a portion of the NWS' website.
Was there a forecast of how 2022's monsoon season was going to look like?
In May 2022, experts predicted above-normal rainfall for the southern half of Arizona.
"The Climate Prediction Center Precipitation outlook for this monsoon favors equal chances for near, below or above normal rainfall across Arizona," officials said, in the video. "However, odds lean toward above normal rainfall across the portion of South Central Arizona, from Phoenix southward to Tucson.
According to its Monsoon Outlook, NWS officials said 2021's monsoon season was the 9th wettest since 1895, and that most of the state had well above average rainfall.
So, how are we doing so far?
On Aug. 10, we spoke with Tom Frieders with the National Weather Service on 2022's monsoon season.
"Two years ago, it was a real dry season.  was much wetter than 2020. This year, for the State of Arizona as a whole, there are many areas well above normal for the perception to date for the season. So, we're looking real good," said Frieders.
Frieders said so far, areas in the north and east of Arizona, along with Flagstaff, have been hit the hardest by storms, with some areas receiving as much as 400% more precipitation.
In the Phoenix area, the average rainfall at Sky Harbor Airport measures at 1.25 inches, which is right where it should be.
"So we get in this pattern where we have high pressure off to the northeast of the area, and that pumps in -- it kind of does an easterly flow across Arizona," said Frieders. "We’ve been persistently in that pattern throughout this monsoon season, so, just about on a daily basis, we’ve had that risk of thunderstorms."
Frieders says it does not look like the storms will let up soon, and predicts the rest of August will see a good chance for rain.
It feels like there's been a lot of lightning this monsoon season…
According to our meteorologist Krystal Ortiz, Arizona has had about 300,000 lightning strikes so far during the monsoon season, citing data provided by the National Weather Service. The lightning count for an average monsoon season is about 280,000.
For the Phoenix area, there's been 4,505 lightning strikes this monsoon season, compared to the average count of 3,122.
The lightning count so far for 2022 appears high, but there have been seasons with even higher counts. Ortiz said on July 26, 2006, the Phoenix area saw about 3,700 lightning strikes that day alone. NWS data shows for the entire season that year, the Phoenix area saw 14,108 lightning strikes.
The most recent year when the Phoenix area saw above-average lightning strike counts was 2018, at 7,663.
Satellite and radar image
Be prepared and stay safe during the monsoon
"Most Valley residents know how quickly and furiously storms can move in and out, bringing strong winds, dust, rain, and flash flooding. These storms can cause interruptions in services, such as water, power, and gas," stated Captain Ashley Losch of the Glendale Fire Department.
GFD reminds residents of ways they can be prepared and stay safe:
- Have flashlights with extra batteries on hand.
- Have food that can be prepared without the need for cooking or refrigeration.
- Have at least one gallon of clean water for each person in the household.
- Have backup power for anyone requiring power for a medical device.
- Have backup power for cell phones that do not require charging.
- Have a first aid kit ready and accessible.
- Never drive into areas with flowing water; it takes less than 10 inches to wash a car away.
- Avoid flooded areas, such as washes.
- If waters are rising, seek higher ground.
- Do not approach downed power lines, the ground can be energized for up to 200 feet.
- Keep pets indoors during storms.