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Southwest Monsoon Season: How to Prepare


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  • For emergency water extraction and water damage restoration near you during the southwest monsoon season, call SERVPRO®. The #1 choice in fire and water cleanup and restoration is always available with 24-hour emergency services.

    The desert states in the U.S., which generally include Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, experience what is frequently called “monsoon season.” But what exactly is involved in monsoon season, besides intense storms, and heavy rainfall? How does this tropical season affect home and business owners? And what can be done to prepare? SERVPRO® has the answers when it comes to these intense storms in the desert states.

    What is a Monsoon?

    SciJinks, an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, provides this definition of a monsoon: “A shift in winds that often causes a very rainy season or a very dry season. Although monsoons are usually associated with parts of Asia, they can happen in many tropical and subtropical regions—including several locations in the United States.”

    What is Monsoon Season?

    According to, monsoon season in the United States, commonly referred to as “The North American Monsoon,” is “a seasonal change in the atmospheric circulation that occurs as the summer sun heats the continental land mass.”

    In other words, during most of the year, the wind above this region is dry and blows from the west. However, during summertime, high pressure builds over the Southwest, causing winds to become more southerly and moisture from the Gulf of California and Pacific Ocean to form overhead. This ongoing circulation of air and moisture causes thunderstorms and heavy rainfall, commencing “monsoon season.”

    While the exact start and end of monsoon season can vary, in the Southwestern U.S., it tends to start in June or July, and end in early to mid-September.

    While monsoons can undoubtedly cause severe damage, The University of Arizona’s Climate Assessment for the Southwest still points out that they can be important to the region. This is because the arid desert states rely on monsoons to control the hot temperatures of summer, alleviate the stress placed on water resources, and assist with production of vegetation.

    How Many Deserts are in the United States?

    As monsoons tend to affect the Southwestern U.S., you might be wondering just how many deserts are in the United States in the first place. It turns out the United States has four major desert systems. These four deserts include the Great Basin (which extends into California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah), the Mojave (which extends into Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah) the Chihuahuan (which extends into Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and parts of Mexico) and the Sonoran (which extends into Arizona, California, and parts of Mexico).

    As you can see, these desert regions can be impacted by monsoon season, receiving torrential rain and experiencing potentially damaging thunderstorms.  

    How to Prepare for a Monsoon

    Monsoons can be dangerous, causing severe flooding, damaging thunderstorms, high winds, and more. According to the National Weather Service, take the following steps to prepare for a monsoon during monsoon season:

    • Regularly check your local weather forecast, especially when traveling or when outside for extended periods.
      • In addition to your cell phone, consider keeping a NOAA Weather Radio or AM/FM radio on-hand.
    • Consider implementing a SERVPRO Emergency Ready Plan to help establish exactly what steps to take in the event of a monsoon or other natural disaster.

    For each type of weather event that may be caused by a monsoon, the National Weather Service offers the following tips to protect yourself and your property in the event of one (for more tips and information, visit their website). And remember, while prepping your home or property for a monsoon, consider waiting to handle these tasks when it is cooler outside or later in the day (early morning is optimal).

    Downbursts and/or High Winds:

    • Secure outdoor furniture and garbage cans, and close garage doors.

    Flash Floods:

    • Secure any material above flood levels, to help prevent them from floating away.
    • Store lumber, plywood, plastic sheeting, and sandbags away from floodwater, keeping it easily accessible so you can begin immediate repairs when water recedes.


    • Do not touch wiring during a thunderstorm.
    • Do not unplug electronics if you hear thunder.
      • Unplug electronics when thunderstorms are expected, but before the storm arrives.


    While monsoons can certainly produce excessive rain, the increased chance of lightning, combined with the arid desert conditions of the Southwest, can favor fires.

    • Clear brush at least 30 feet away from your home or business, making sure tree branches are trimmed and kept away from electrical lines and chimneys.
    • Consider using fire-resistant material on your roof eaves and the underside of decks.

    Power Outages:

    • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed (food will remain fresh for up to 8 hours after power goes out).
    • Turn off your air conditioning unit during thunderstorms, as power surges caused by lighting can overload units and increase your bill.
    • Turn off electrical appliances that were on before the power went out. If possible, leave at least one light on so you know when power is restored.

    SERVPRO’s Storm Cleanup Services

    After a severe storm such as a Southwestern monsoon, it is important to take quick action to begin cleanup, restoration, and construction services, if necessary. SERVPRO’s storm cleanup services include roof tarping and board-up services, which can help protect against animals, theft, illegal entry, and minimize additional severe weather that may strike while restoration occurs.

    Additionally, SERVPRO maintains a network of strategically placed Disaster Recovery Teams® across the nation, prepared to move into action when major disasters strike. These teams are prepared to assist with large losses, such as monsoons. In fact, each Disaster Recovery Team® is equipped to provide services like:

    SERVPRO is Here to Help ® Before, During, and After Monsoon Season

    With 24-hour emergency services, SERVPRO professionals are available around the clock to provide cleanup, restoration, and construction services, whether you experience damage from a Southwestern monsoon or other extreme weather event. When you need thorough water extraction, roof tarping and board-up services, mold remediation from excessive moisture, or more, SERVPRO is here to help.

    With 2240 SERVPRO locations in the United States and Canada, there is a SERVPRO near you, available to provide emergency cleanup, restoration, and rebuilding services after property damage anytime. We are the #1 choice in fire and water cleanup and restoration* for a reason, so find your local SERVPRO today, and give us a call.

    To find out more, visit our FAQ and Glossary.

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    *#1 Choice in cleanup & restoration based on Commercial and Residential Attitude & Usage Tracking studies. Polling 816 commercial business decision-makers and 1,550 homeowner decision-makers on first choice for future needs related to cleanup & restoration work. Studies conducted by C&R Research: Oct 2019 and Decision Analyst: Oct 2019.