Today was a tough day to pick a “headline” for the nation. 105-110F in Oklahoma? Maybe. 5-10 inches of rain and flooding all over St. Louis, MO? Maybe. What about the 90-100 degree heat in the Pacific NW including Portland and Seattle? After last year, 90-100 there doesn’t hit as hard anymore. Chamber of commerce weather with low humidity across the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, Mid Atlantic and the Northeast US today? Even in mid summer these days can be typical. So looking at the national weather map what is the biggest thing that stands out as, WAIT A MINUTE?
I’ve got it. Nearly the ENTIRE STATE OF ARIZONA IS UNDER FLOOD WATCH TODAY. Outside of the Colorado River Valley, where the water is controlled, the rest of the state may have floods today. The rest of the state. All of Metro Phoenix with its millions of people. Tucson. Flagstaff. Sedona. All the popular places in Arizona have been hit hard by monsoon rains recently. Its late July and that’s “typical” for this time of year. The monsoon season is generally from early July through early September in this part of the country. But flooding rains over such a widespread area of elevation and terrain are rare. And the expectation more is coming, a lot more, is the issue. Monsoon rains are actually ABOVE NORMAL this year in this part of the nation experiencing DROUGHT APOCALYPSE. Any rain from any source is great. But too much rain too fast is never a good thing. Ask St. Louis how that worked out today.
So why is flooding so bad in the desert? Well from when I lived in the desert between 2005-2008 (I lived in Las Vegas for 3 1/2 years), it was something even I as an experienced Meteorologist wasn’t expecting and needed to adjust to. Take the too much rain, too fast problem and put it on concrete dry ground, you’ll get water going anywhere it can. It can get going very fast, and be very devastating. It can wash out roads, it can drown people, it can bulldoze anything in its path. Turn Around, Don’t Drown, the official word of what to do when you see flooding from the National Weather Service, is ESPECIALLY TRUE IN THE DESERT. In the desert it either floods with authority or not at all. Don’t be caught in it. Seriously.
Here’s to praying the monsoon season continues to squeeze out a lot of rain over Arizona, and the whole of the Desert Southwest. If there is anyplace that can use rain, or a flood, this is it.