Sunrise and Monsoon Clouds over Arizona’s White Mountains

For the past week that I’ve been vacationing in the White Mountains of Northeastern Arizona, I’ve begun to see and understand the wild and crazy swings in weather due to the summer monsoon season.

You would think that in a desert climate such as Arizona, that it never ever rains. That is true for the most part. For most of the year, it hardly if ever rains. However, once summer nears and the monsoon season begins, it is a whole new place.

The weather can be perfectly clear with a brilliant blue sky and then all of the sudden, in roll the crazy, out of this world clouds of brilliant, glistening whites that turn to hues of creams, pinks, grays, blues and eventually black. The wind picks up, the thunder roars and lightning flashes sideways across the sky and you better be inside or if not, run for cover. It is going to storm and it is going to rain hard.

Normally here in the White Mountains the monsoons have started forming around mid-morning, as the clouds have grown bigger, brighter and then darker over time. The monsoon generally starts over the highest peaks of the the mountains and moves slowly over the Mogollon Rim. By early to mid afternoon, the storm reaches here at my parent’s house in Torreon and the thunder begins.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve become absolutely fascinated by the changing of these incredibly, amazing clouds. They are out of this world and like nothing I’ve ever seen, even in Patagonia. I’ve had endless opportunities to take pictures of them and here are some of my favorites, all taken at different times of the day. Notice on some of the pictures that you can even see bright blue sky juxtaposed to the heavy, water laden storm clouds. It is quite an unbelievable sight that I just can’t seem to get enough of during my trip.

Hope you enjoy the photos and below is a short text I found interesting on the Arizona Monsoons for your reading pleasure! thirdeyemom




















Found on “What is the Arizona Monsoon” by Steve Eastwood

In Arizona, as in other regions of the world including India and Thailand, we experience a monsoon, a season of high temperatures, high winds, and high moisture, resulting in potentially deadly weather.

The term “monsoon” comes from the Arabic “mausim” meaning “season” or “wind shift.”

When Is Arizona’s Monsoon?

Up until 2008 Arizona’s monsoon varied from year to year in starting date and duration. The Arizona monsoon officially began after the third consecutive day of dew points above 55 degrees. On average this occurred around July 7 with the monsoon continuing for the next two months. In 2008 the National Weather Service decided to take the guesswork out of monsoon start and end dates. From now on June 15 will be the first day of the monsoon, and September 30 will be the last day. They did this simply to take the focus off whether or not a storm was considered a monsoon storm or not, and have people be more concerned with safety.
What Happens During Monsoon?

Monsoon storms range from minor dust storms to violent thunderstorms. They can even spawn tornadoes, though that is very rare. Typically, Arizona monsoon storms start with heavy winds sometimes resulting in a visible wall of dust hundreds of feet high moving across the Valley. These dust storms are normally accompanied by frequent thunder and lightning often leading to heavy downpours. Monsoon rains average about 2-1/2″, about 1/3 of our yearly rainfall.


  1. I didn’t know that Arizona had a monsoon season. Those clouds are fascinating. Here in Queensland we have cyclone season in summer. Last summer we had devastating rain and floods. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again this summer.

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