Each year, a variety of weather related dangers affect Arizona, New Mexico and southwest Texas, especially from late spring into early autumn. Through a collaborative effort between National Weather Service offices serving the states of Arizona and New Mexico, which includes offices located in Tucson, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, El Paso/Santa Teresa and Midland/Odessa, the time period from June 15th through September 30th has been defined as "The Monsoon."
A period of extreme heat is typically ongoing at its onset, which in the coming days or weeks is followed by an influx of moisture leading to daily rounds of thunderstorms. The heat is deadly in its own right, causing dozens of deaths in Arizona each year. In addition, thunderstorms present an array of hazards which often strike suddenly and with violent force.
In Arizona and New Mexico, lightning strikes, high winds, wildfires, tornadoes, flash flooding and extreme heat have caused an average of 10 deaths and 60 injuries along with tens of millions of dollars of damage each year since 1995. Road closures, as well as power and communication outages are additional consequences of monsoon weather hazards.
Monsoon Safety Awareness Week is held each year with the goal to reduce the number of deaths, injuries and property damage caused by weather related dangers that occur during the monsoon. Through education about proper precautionary actions to be taken, lives can be saved and property losses can be minimized. Learn more about Monsoon Safety Awareness.
Warning Information for Monsoon Season
Armed with Doppler radars, powerful supercomputers, advanced weather satellites, automated weather and stream gages, and an advanced lightning detection network, forecasters at the National Weather Service are able to provide highly accurate severe weather warnings.
Advanced National Weather Service computer systems now allow warnings to be generated in seconds for highly detailed areas. Those warnings are then transmitted to the public, the media and emergency management officials via NOAA Weather Radio, the Emergency Alert System, and the Internet.
Television meteorologists play critical roles in the warning process. They relay National Weather Service warnings to the public and provide additional detail about the storms, what they are doing and where they are going.
Weather Terminology — Understanding Watches, Warnings, and Advisories
Watches mean that widespread severe weather is possible.
Warnings (Severe Thunderstorm, Flash Flood, Dust Storm, or in rare cases, Tornado) mean that life-threatening weather is about to occur, or has been reported. Take action immediately.
Flood Advisories mean heavy rains will cause minor flooding of washes, streams, and typical flood-prone areas. Flooding in this situation is usually not serious. If the flooding does become life threatening, then the flood advisory is upgraded to a Flash Flood Warning.
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Warnings are not issued for lightning, mainly because most thunderstorms, no matter how weak, produce deadly cloud-to-ground lightning.
The Office of Emergency Management coordinates the response and recovery activities for the city during a natural disaster.