Unleashing the Power of 2 on Monsoon 2017

Posted: Updated:
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Power of 2: Paul Horton, Ian Schawrtz, Ashlee DeMartino, Kim Quintero, April Warnecke and Royal Normal (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Power of 2: Paul Horton, Ian Schawrtz, Ashlee DeMartino, Kim Quintero, April Warnecke and Royal Normal (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
STATEWIDE (3TV/CBS 5) -

June in Arizona can only mean one thing – the monsoon is a-comin’.

Once upon a time, the dates of the season were fluid, determined by the dew point. Three consecutive days of an average dew point of 55 degrees or more signaled the arrival of the monsoon.

Anything lower than 50 degrees means the air is a bit too dry for the heavy downpours that are the signature of a monsoon storm.

In 2008, the National Weather Service set firm dates, taking the guesswork out of the season. These days the monsoon is June 15-Sept. 30.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Monsoon 2017]

[BLOG: Monsoon Season 101]

But it’s not like a switch flips and all of a sudden we see near nightly flare-ups of high winds and out-of-nowhere rainstorms that flood washes and streets throughout the Valley. Mother Nature, of course, does not conform to what we mere humans say, which is why meteorologists still pay special attention to the dew point all summer long.

Power of 2: Monsoon 2017 Special

CBS 5 - Monday, June 12 @ 7 p.m. and Saturday, July 1 at 4:30 p.m.

3TV - Thursday, June 15 @ 8 p.m. and Saturday June 24 @ 8:30 p.m.

Monsoon storms are known for their violence and are not to be taken lightly. They are usually relatively short in duration, but they can be brutal and leave behind severe damage.

“In fact, this is the most dangerous time of year weather-wise in the Southwest,” according to the NWS Monsoon Safety page. “If a Severe Thunderstorm Watch is in effect, be mindful that severe thunderstorms could quickly develop. When a Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued, outdoor activities should be postponed as this is your best way to avoid being caught in a dangerous situation.”

That in mind, here are the most common watches and warnings the NWS issues during the monsoon.

It’s important to remember that there is a significant difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means that conditions are favorable for severe weather. While those conditions are expected, they are not happening at the moment or in the immediate future. A warning, however, means that severe conditions are happening now or are imminent.

Dust Storm Warning: “A dust storm, with visibilities of 1/4 mile or less, is about to strike, or has already developed. Pull off the road now! Wind gusts between 40 and 60 mph are also likely.”

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: “Conditions are favorable for widespread thunderstorms with damaging winds and even large hail to develop. These are usually issued only when an especially active day is expected. Watch weather reports and conditions closely.”

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: “A thunderstorm with damaging winds of 60 mph or greater is about to occur, or is already underway. These winds could also produce a dust storm with visibilities below 1/4 mile. Hail 1" in diameter or larger is also possible.”

Flash Flood Watch: “Conditions are favorable for flash flooding over large or multiple areas of the region. These are usually issued only when an especially active day is expected. Watch weather reports and conditions closely.”

Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory: “Minor flooding is expected or underway in low lying [sic] and flood prone areas. While it may not be life threatening, extreme caution is advised, particularly for motorists.”

Flash Flood Warning: “Life-threatening, rapid flooding is about to occur, or is already underway. Move to higher ground now! It is particularly dangerous to be in a low lying [sic] area or near a wash.”

[ONLINE: NWS Monsoon Safety]

This is the most dangerous time of year weather-wise in the Southwest.

So, how much rain do we really get?

The 3.5 months of the monsoon are when parts of Arizona will get a good portion of its rainfall for the entire year. Most of that comes in July and August.

According to the National Weather Service, a “normal” monsoon brings 2.71 inches of rain in Phoenix – roughly 34 percent of our annual average of 8.04 inches.

3TV and CBS 5 meteorologists on Twitter

@AshleeDeMartino | @PaulHortonCBS5 | @royalnorman | @KimQuintero | @SchwartzTV | @aprilwarnecke 

[azfamily.com Weather Tools: Rain Totals | Interactive Radar | Blog: Weather Discussion | Alerts/Warnings | 360 Camera Network]

Last year, we saw 2.49 inches and in 2015, we got 3.29 inches.

The wettest monsoon on record in Phoenix was in 1984 with 9.56 inches of rain. The driest was in 1924, with just 0.35 inch.

The monsoon tends to pack more of a punch in Tucson, where the “normal” rainfall is 6.08 inches, and Flagstaff, which sees an average of 8.31 inches.


Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.