Phoenix Area Weather

All about the Phoenix monsoon

This is a reprint of a post from summer 2009.

When I was a kid and we moved here in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the knee-jerk reaction answer to "When's the monsoon?" was “August”.

With the heat island effect, it seems like the monsoon arrives earlier and lasts longer each year. In 2008, the National Weather Service announced they would date the monsoon season in Arizona from June 15 to September 30 each year. In prior years, the weather services had dated the beginning and ending of the monsoon season based on meteorological readings of the barometric pressure, temperature, humidity, etc.

According to Wikipedia:
The North American Monsoon (NAM) occurs from late June or early July into September, originating over Mexico and spreading into the southwest United States by mid-July. It affects Mexico along the Sierra Madre Occidental as well as Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah,Colorado, West Texas, and California.

Monsoon With a Dust Storm Chaser

Monsoon with a dust storm chaser originally posted on Kathy Anderson’s AZ Active Retirement Living blog
Monsoon Clouds Over Phoenix Skyline

monsoon over downtown Phx image courtesy of The Downtown Phoenix Journal
Monsoon near Quartzite Arizona, 1976

AZ monsoon near quartzite, AZ 1976 CDouglas Stockdale on DouglasStockdale DOT com photo courtesy of, and copyright by Douglas Stockdale
Video of Monsoon Storms

Here’s a really exciting video about Phoenix monsoons created by the local CBS news affiliate, channel 10 (hat tip to Kathy Anderson for linking me to it). The video clip is undated but it appears to be a retrospective of the 2008 monsoon season, which was one of the Valley’s 10 worst.

In the video, CBS reporters talk to a hi-rise condo owner in downtown Phoenix who shot video of the August 28 (2008?) storm as it swept across town, blew out the windows in his condo, and then proceeded to dump cherry-sized hailstones into his living room!

At about the 6:28 minute mark of the video, there’s a mind-boggling shot of a huge dust storm surging across the Valley. It reminded me instantly of the videos of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.
Just the Facts, Ma’am

Are you the type who likes detailed statistical information instead of shocking videos? Here’s the National Weather Service explaining the meteorological in’s and out’s of monsoons. Local news AzFamily Channel 3 has some more great statistics on wind speeds and dollars’ worth of damages during monsoon season.
Related Posts and Information on Other Sites

the heat sneaks up on you

This morning was beautiful – absolutely beautiful.  I took advantage of the nice weather & grabbed a seat on the patio at Paradise Bakery this morning.  Did I mention it was 5:45 am?  That might have something to do with the almost cool temperature..


By 7:00 I noticed it was getting a little warm, but I was on the phone & wanted to finish what I was working on before I moved indoors.  Well, the phone call led to an email, which led to opening my internet browser, which led to my feedreader, etc. etc.  Next thing I know it was 8:00 and the desert sun was doing a number on me..  I suddenly realized I felt like it was 3:00 in the afternoon & I had been out showing houses all afternoon!

Thankfully there was an air conditioned table waiting for me inside.

New to the Valley of the Sun?  Be careful – the heat can sneak up on you quickly.

Your recovering nicely Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Weekend fire restrictions in Tonto Nat’l Forest

Image ID 501779 by Stock Exchange user mailsparky

Getting out of the unbearable heat town this weekend? If you’re heading to the Tonto National Forest, take note: there are fire restrictions starting Friday (June 11, 2010) at 8:00 pm local time.

The restrictions begin at 8 a.m. Friday. Campfires and most types of fire-causing activities will be banned across the entire forest. Charcoal-burning devices also are off limits.

Violating the restrictions is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Petroleum stoves, lanterns and heating devices are allowed.

See the fire restrictions press release on Tucson KGUN9 radio station’s website.

National Get Outdoors Day is June 12, and the staff at the Tonto National Forest is planning a day of family-related activities. Read more on the Tonto National Forest Forest website.

Greenbelts, Washes, and Drainage

** Update 1/21/10, 9:00pm.  The pictures below were taken earlier today, before lunchtime.  As of now (and a full day of rain), my backyard is 2 inches under water, but the water is still draining towards the street, drainage pipes, and greenbelts.  I don't have statistics in front of me, but I don't remember getting as much rain at one time in a long time..  **

If you live in the suburbs, or any neighborhood in Greater Phoenix that was built in the last 20 years or so, you probably have some greenbelts or desert washes near your house.  They’re great – open space, lush grass, sidewalks for bike riding and walking your dog – everybody loves them.

Wanna know a secret?  They’re really for draining our heavy rainfall away from your house and into the local rivers.  (ok, “heavy” and “rivers” might be a bit of a stretch..)  We get to see them in action a couple times a year, and in all seriousness, it’s a pretty impressive system.

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Heavy rains drain through the greenbelts in Phoenix

Your misses the heavy rains of the ‘80s and ‘90s Realtor,

Chris Butterworth


Rain Haiku

Rain and clouds outside.

Different.  Leading news story.

Move kids’ toys inside.

Rain in Phoenix

It’s funny, but when you go months between rainstorms, you can get a little lazy about cleaning up outside.  We’re much more focused on keeping things from getting ruined from the sun, but when it rains we usually scramble to get the kids’ toys, bikes, skateboards, etc., into the garage.

Good thing we get plenty of warning from the local news!

Your happy to see a raindrop or two outside Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Fall Arrives in Phoenix

You’ve got to love it when this is the weather forecast (heard on radio, yesterday):
Yes, temperatures plummeted into the high 70's today, but we're expecting a warming trend: it'll be in the mid-80's by mid-week.

We’re in for 7 months of beautiful!

April Does Weather Oct 6 2009 (click picture to enlarge & see this week's extended forecast)

I can't get the video in the picture above to embed but you can View today’s weather forecast on the local Channel 3 newscast, KTVK. (note this is an auto-updating website, so if you’re viewing it in the future, you’ll see the forecast for the date you're viewing it)

So now it’s gonna get hot?!

I write about the weather a couple/few times each year, usually when it’s extreme enough to be a topic of conversation.  This is one of those times..

Yesterday we were out showing homes with buyers, and it was hot.  106 degrees with bright blue skies and a big yellow sun.  (and the fact that half the homes didn’t have a/c running didn’t help matters any!)  Then, listening to the radio on the way home, I heard the weather report that it’s going to warm up this weekend.  What?!?!

Phoenix Forecast

Moving to Phoenix?  Now’s a good time to visit; we’re starting that 6-week period which makes Phoenix famous for its weather.  If you don’t spontaneously combust, you’ll probably like it here!

Your voting for shorts and flip-flops being professional attire Realtor,

Chris Butterworth

Summertime Sunshine

I can't remember a time, ever, when the first day of summer was actually the first day of summer.  Get ready, Phoenicians, summer's here.  (it was bound to get here at some point.)

We've had one of the coolest summers ever, so far.  But once it gets hot nobody remembers last week.


Your prefers hot to cold anyday Realtor,

Chris Butterworth
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Sunshine is better

Our weather has been terrific lately - cool in the mornings and evenings, warm at lunchtime, hot in the afternoon, but still so dry it doesn't bother you at all.  I'm finding myself in a better-than-normal mood lately for no real reason..

This is one of the reasons I'm so optimistic for Phoenix's real estate recovery; people continue to move here from other parts of the country, and every family that comes here needs a place to live.  Eventually the excess inventory of homes will get soaked up and things will get back to normal.

People aren't the only ones who like the sunshine better; check out these flowers' reaction to a cloudy day vs a sunny day:

flowers on cloudy day

flowers on sunny day

Your working outside a little bit today Realtor,

Chris Butterworth


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How important is dress code?

Phoenix is a pretty laid back city - guys can get away with a golf shirt and a nice pair of pants all year long for just about any occasion.  And during the summer, when it's 100+ outside, wearing shorts is not uncommon.

This week has been interesting, though, and the dress code conversation has come up several times among my friends and colleagues.  Here's the problem:

Today is October 2nd.  Autumn.  Fall festivals.  Leaves changing colors.  All that stuff.  Time to get out the winter clothes and enjoy the changing of the seasons!

Today is going to be 102 degrees.  Few things are less fun than showing homes, and getting in and out of the car a dozen times, while sweating profusely in your good, winter dress clothes!

Personally, I tend to use the thermometer over the calendar.  You probably won't see me wearing anything other than shorts from the time we break the mid 90's in May until the time we come back down into the 90's in October. (that didn't sound right - I actually wear shirts, too.)  Some people go the other way instead, turning to long pants after Labor Day, or on October 1st, or some other pre-determined date.  Tomato, tomahto.

It looks like the debate will be short-lived this year, as we're supposed to get some autumn weather this weekend:  80's, here we come!

Here is some historical average information regarding Phoenix temperatures and precipitation.

Phoenix Average Monthly Temperatures


Your dusting off his long pants Realtor,

Chris Butterworth