Friday, July 8, 2011

Thunderhead and Sunbeams, Arizona

The summer monsoon season arrived in northern Arizona almost a week ago. Finally. We'd had a very dry, very windy spring. Very high forest fire danger. A few wildfires did break out but were quickly contained, unlike last year, and unlike this year in eastern Arizona, the ones you've seen on the news.

"Monsoon" is not the correct term for what we get here in Arizona, but it's the one that everybody uses. It's not at all like the monsoon season in southeast Asia, where it rains endlessly. Here, it's when ocean moisture (primarily from the Gulf of California down in Mexico) gets pulled up here. The moisture collides with the hot, sunny Arizona weather to form immense thunderhead clouds that rain down heavily, and often very locally. In a dry desert climate it's very welcome. And very beautiful.

Today was one of those days here in Flagstaff, only it was a "reverse monsoon". It rained early in the morning and was done by noon, instead of the other way around. Then the skies cleared somewhat, and in late afternoon I noticed this dramatic cloud and the streaming sunbeams.

(Click on the image to see a larger version).

You might also be interested in my Grand Canyon Photography blog.

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See my videos (including one of our amazing monsoon rains) on my YouTube channel: