The blue skies quickly turn to a steel gray, the wind starts to whip around with such force trees bend and sometimes break, lightning streaks the skies and the clouds dump all their water in a few short minutes. This is an Arizona monsoon storm.
Luke Air Force Base recently had its share of these summer storms as the past two weeks have been filled with rain and even some damaging winds.
“What happened last week was typical of normal monsoon seasons, but quite atypical of our so far quiet season,” said Senior Airman Justin Kellner, 56th Operations Support Squadron weather journeyman. “This year, up until now, has been quite dry, with few storms developing enough to cause problems for the base.”
Arizona monsoon season starts June 15 and runs through Sept. 15 and happens by a combination of weather here and in Texas.
“The monsoon weather is caused by a high pressure system over Texas,” Kellner said. “Air circulation around this high brings a large amount of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California into the otherwise dry Southwest. The moisture combined with the heat and the mountains causes the thunderstorms to develop.”
But the last few weeks have not been ordinary for Luke.
“Aug. 26 was a different matter,” Kellner said. “There was a large influx of moisture into our normal pattern from the leftovers of tropical storms Fernand and Ivo. This enhanced an already charged pattern and gave it the extra boost needed to cause a significant event for the base and the surrounding areas.”
During monsoon the National Weather Service releases tips to help those in areas affected by the weather.
According to the National Weather Service website there are a few things to watch out for during monsoon. The things to watch for are dust storms, downbursts and damaging winds, flash floods, heat, lightning, fires, and last, but seldom thought of for this area, tornados. The National Weather Service puts out warnings for all these events and suggests people keep up to date on weather conditions during the season.
“Check weather forecasts before leaving for extended periods outdoors,” the NWS website said. “Always keep an eye to the sky and watch for signs of approaching storms. If a storm is approaching, keep an AM/FM radio with you or a cell phone capable of browsing the web. If a severe thunderstorm watch is in effect, be mindful that they develop quickly. 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.”