Natural disasters in the Southwest aren’t much of a problem for desert dwellers. Tornadoes? Nope. Hurricanes? Not likely. Earthquakes? Maybe, if you live in California.
Come summer, though, residents living in the dry climate of the Southwest region are faced with a summer weather phenomenon that packs a punch. Seasonal monsoon activity, typically July through September, is a time when the region receives half of its annual rainfall. Fantastic storms light up the darkened sky and heavy rain pounds the Earth. This Southwestern natural disaster also comes with an increase in risk for accidents and property damage.
Drive with Care
While monsoon rain brings a much-needed break from scorching temperatures, it also causes flash floods, strong winds and dangerous fires sparked by lightning. In 2021, Northern Arizona recorded the wettest July ever, causing the National Weather Service to issue more than 100 flash flood warnings in that month alone. Despite the heavy rain, five out of six national forests in the region had to be closed to the public because of wildfire.
Southwestern motorists know to be careful during monsoon season — washes and roadways fill quickly with rainwater, leaving some drivers and passengers stranded in quick-moving runoff. Microbursts and dust storms also create low-visibility driving conditions that make it dangerous to see. Wildfires caused by monsoon lightning also cause driving hazards when excessive smoke blankets an area and reduces visibility.
Avoid driving if possible during and after monsoon storms. Stay home or at the office to watch the skies open up and the water pelt down. It’s always better to be safe, even if that means waiting out a storm. Monsoon storms are typically short and often violent, so waiting in a safe place won’t take long.
Prepare Your Home
Monsoon activity in the Southwest helps break up the summer heat, but it’s important to remain vigilant even with the cooling temperatures and awesome skies. Extreme weather and its after-effects can damage your home — from buildings ravaged by strong winds, a deluge of water or felled trees and powerlines.
Before a monsoon storm hits, get your home ready for severe weather and unpredictable circumstances. Bring anything inside that could be damaged by heavy wind or rain, such as patio furniture, potted plants, umbrellas and recreational equipment. Those items can also become projectiles that damage your home or vehicles. Check your property for big branches on trees that are planted close to your home, and other large items that could potentially fall onto your house and damage it. Make sure your roof, windows and doors are well sealed to avoid water leaks.
Get the Proper Coverage
Make sure you are insured for the Southwest’s severe weather. Contact your local Farm Bureau agent about replacement cost coverage, which can pay you the full amount (subject to policy limits) to repair or replace your damaged or lost possessions, with a similar type and quality, regardless of depreciation.