Monsoon tourism

John Farley

My wife, Alice, and I recently returned from a vacation in the Southwest. It seemed like everywhere we went, the sights we saw were enhanced by the monsoon storms which were very active in late July and August, particularly in Arizona. Here are a few pics that will show you what I mean:


Mammatus over Santa Fe, NM


Laguna Pueblo in NM, with storm over Mt. Taylor in background


Storm just SE of Meteor Crater, AZ forms a small wall cloud as we visited the Crater.


Same view, with CG lightning (video capture)


Looking across Grand Canyon toward developing storm to NE.


Same storm 15 or 20 minutes later has dramatically intensified, forming a pronounced lowering. Not sure exactly what this was, since the storm was at least 30 miles away, but there were no reports of severe wx with this storm.

Though monsoon storms are rarely tornado-producers, I found them to be quite spectacular, in part because in the dry desert air you can see them at such great distances, and in part because of the combination of the storms and the spectacular scenery. I definitely recommend the Southwest during monsoon season.

NOTE: All photos copyright 2005 by John E. Farley
Very cool when you can spot some chaseable weather while on a normal vacation!

The colour saturation of that first photo is so intense that I thought I had accidentally highlighted the image with my mouse! Very nice!
The southwest monsoon is on my list of new chase vacations to take in future years. That along with southern Florida in August and Australia in December-February.
I've visited the Southwest 3 times now for monsoon season, and each time I've seen some spectacular skyscapes.

Here's one of my favourites. This one was taken just outside of Luke Air Force Base.:


George Kourounis
Nice pictures!

This year the Monsoon started late but since then it has been a good one. I have enjoyed it very much so far and there are more storms to come. The Southwestern Monsoon typically lasts until about mid Sept. I always enjoy this particular timeframe - last week Aug into early Sept - the most. Storms can be heavy and broken up hurricane moisture is possible. The desert heat is still around but nothing like the one-teens of June and July.
I went to the Tucson area in 2001. The flow was from the north 5 of the 6 days I was there. UGH. Still enjoyed the area, but no storms. The drive home netted this pic from somewhere in NM...

And these updrafts in the pan handle of TX...

The monsoon season here in Utah has been incredible this year, however since it arrived late the local farmers say that winter will come early - and Im actually wondering if it is already over as we have been clear for a week with out ANY activity?
any one know the STATS regarding a late monsoon arrival?
is the season over already?
Nice shot George. Where is Luke AFB?

Yes, I love the monsoons. I can only get to the Plains once a year so I really look forward to these days. Espically living in Los Angles we very rarley get anything good here.

However August 15th this year was a different story.

Speaking of air force base's and monsoons, Check it out,

West Phoenix is pretty good for storms thanx to the White Tanks Mountains. North from there to Wickenburg is also a great area for storm frequency and saguaro-filled landscape.

Went north thru Paradise Valley last night to take some lightning shots, but by the time I had sufficient darkness for long exposures, the activity was infrequent and mostly intracloud. Took about 10 shots. Woo freakin' hoo.

Enuf of these diurnal pulsers; I need an upper disturbance in a bad way.
And close by; I'm on the gas conservation train. Er, I mean solar-powered light rail.
Good Pics John. The 2nd pic is where I used to live when I was a young child. It is a very interesting place with a lot of Pueblo Indian culture. Glad you got to visit the area.