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Arizona summer season brings distinct drama to the desert

Arizona’s summer is full of drama. But it’s not all about the scorching heat we’re known for.
Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 5:30 PM MST|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 6:23 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Arizona’s summer is full of drama. But it’s not all about the scorching heat we’re known for. There are at least three distinct mini-seasons in our summer, almost like acts in a play.

Act One: Fire season. May and early June bring our driest weather of the year and often gusty winds as well. As a result, wildfires rage through our forests and deserts, leaving behind a scoured landscape that’s ripe for flash flooding once the rain finally arrives.

Act Two: Intense heat. When they say about Arizona, “it’s a dry heat,” they’re talking about June. Very low humidity and frequent heat warnings plague the month. Our hottest days on record in Phoenix and across Arizona--122 to 128 degrees, were recorded in June.

Act Three: The drama of the long-awaited monsoon. In early July, high-based thunderstorms with little rain bring dry lightning and massive dust storms that roll across the parched desert. Eventually, the rain arrives with the humidity. That’s usually from mid-July through August and September, when the dry heat is finally replaced by monsoon mugginess and the sweet smell of creosote in the desert.

Some years, Mother Nature gives us an encore, thanks to hurricane season. Pacific hurricanes sometimes push moisture up through the Gulf of California and into Arizona, offering a monsoon boost to August and September storms. It can make for a dramatic end to this summer blockbuster.