Are You Prepared? How to Avoid this Dangerous Arizona Hazard
Watching the afternoon monsoon clouds roll across the desert is one of the most delightful parts of summer in Arizona.
I love spending a little time watching the big, fluffy clouds turn dark and heavy with rain. I'm always hoping the clouds will spin up enough to turn into those cooling summer monsoon showers.
A Natural Place to Have Fun in the Desert
As much as the desert needs rain, a sudden downpour of rain can quickly turn into a dangerous hazard. It's easy to imagine the possible danger of a lightning strike or the way an onslaught of hail can cause not only drama but property and vehicle damage.
A short jaunt from my house there's a big wash - or an arroyo as many of us call a dry riverbed in Arizona.
We've ridden our horses down the dry wash to spend a little time on the banks of the river. With the soft sand and wide area, the wash is also a popular place for ATV's and other recreational vehicles - a great place to blow off a little steam and really open up the throttle for adventure.
The Downside of the Monsoon Rain
It's always great fun to blow off some steam in places like washes and other parts of the desert, but it's always a good idea to plan around any potential weather, especially during the unpredictable monsoon season.
The sudden localized showers and torrential downpours can turn a fun afternoon into a danger zone much faster than you might think. As the rain falls, it quickly fills up the hundreds of washes and gullies, arroyos, and basins, quickly creating hazardous conditions you might not be able to escape.
The Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) at the University of Arizona warns, "Flash flooding can cause the deep arroyos or deposition of sediment."
Rushing water and fast-moving debris can be a recipe for disaster.
Plan Ahead to Stay Safe
With advance planning before the storm begins, it's possible to have fun and remain safe from dangerous floodwaters. Plan your outing earlier in the day long before the afternoon monsoons are likely to hit. As soon as the clouds move in, it's time to seek higher ground. Don't wait until it starts raining to look for safety and shelter.
The sudden rains can fill washes at lightning speed, and the rushing water can overtake a wash fast, trapping you inside. Get out long before this becomes a danger.
Always be sure to pack a bag with basic safety gear, even if you think you'll only be gone a short time. A pocket knife, extra water, a first aid kit, rope, and snacks could make all the difference.