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Ask the contractor: Before the rains come, get your home ready

Monsoon season in this region began on June 15. (Metro Creative Graphics)

Monsoon season in this region began on June 15. (Metro Creative Graphics)

According to Wikipedia, the monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea. According to the National Weather Service, the word “monsoon” is derived from the Arabic word “mausim,” which means season. So, as opposed to an individual storm, the monsoon is a specific season of the year.

We have all come to know the monsoon season as the rainy season here in Yavapai County. We never know exactly when, for how long, how intense and even if we will receive copious amounts of rain, but for sure regardless of these unknown questions, we must ready our homes for monsoon season, which officially started Wednesday June 15, 2016. Statistically, we consider it a “monsoon day” when the average daily dew point is 55 degrees or higher.

For the next several months, we’ll be treated to dazzling displays of lightning, powerful winds that will rip off roofs and uproot trees, and pounding rain that will flood washes and sweep away cars through Arizona and Yavapai County.

We know it’s coming, we have been warned via social media, newspapers, television and radio. We have winds that typically blow in from the west and southwest, keeping the state fairly dry. Around this time of year, however, the wind flow shifts. It starts to blow in from the east and southeast, dragging an unusual amount of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into Arizona on its way up to the Four Corners. When Arizona’s heat and overall unstable weather mixes with the moisture brought in by these winds, storms arise.

We can’t do anything to prevent the monsoon, but we can be prepared.

Monsoon season — love it or hate it, it’s here. Now is the time to prepare. Here are the top five tips to get your home ready for the rain, wind, dust and hail that will be headed our way soon.

Check your roof

There’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night to the “drip… drip… drip…” of a leaky roof. Before the monsoon rains come rolling in, inspect your roof or have a professional do it for you. Patch up any cracks or holes, and get recommendations on good roofers, just in case you need to call in the professionals.

Prepare plants and trees

Protect your plants (and your home!) by preparing in advance. Trim any big tree branches that could snap off and damage your roof. Stake down young trees that might not make it through an intense storm.

And remember, the heavy monsoon rains that often come before the strong winds can loosen the soil and make trees more prone to becoming uprooted.

Evaluate your drainage

If you’ve noticed drainage issues in your yard that cause pooling of water during a rain storm, make sure you have it taken care of before the monsoons hit. You may need to hire a landscaping company to provide a drainage solution that will keep your yard and home protected from possible flooding.

Install or clean out gutters

Rain gutters and downspouts are the best way to direct the rain that comes from monsoon microbursts away from your home. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make sure yours are ready to do their job and divert the rain away from your home’s foundation.

When the weather forecast calls for thundershowers or thunderstorms, take it seriously. It means that lightning is possible. Lightning kills 125 people on the average each year in the United States and injures more than 500. This makes it one of the most dangerous weather events in terms of lives lost.

Follow these lightning safety rules and it may save your life.

When thunderstorms are forecast, keep an eye on the sky and when a thunderstorm threatens, stay indoors or in an automobile. Do not use the telephone except for emergencies. If you are caught outside, avoid tall, isolated trees and utility poles. Avoid projecting above the landscape; don’t stand on a hilltop. In a forest seek shelter in a low area under a thick growth of small trees. In open areas go to a low place such as a ravine or valley.

Get off and away from open water. Avoid tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts and other metal vehicles. Put down golf clubs and if you are in a group in the open stay several yards apart.

Arizona thunderstorm winds often exceed 40 mph and straight-line winds can exceed 100 mph.

Move into a central interior room away from windows to avoid blowing debris that could shatter glass.

If you are driving in high winds, slow down and anticipate steering correction when moving from protected to unprotected wind areas or when encountering large passing vehicles. Be aware of high-profile vehicles — trucks, semis, buses, campers, or those towing a trailer — because they can be unpredictable during high winds.

Our area is not conducive to dust storms like the Phoenix area. However, if you are caught in a dust storm while driving, pull off the roadway as far as safely possible. Turn off headlights and taillights, put the vehicle in park, and take your foot off the brake. With reduced visibility, other drivers behind you could see the brake lights and assume you are driving on the road and follow your lights.

According to the National Weather Service, nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle related. Never drive into a flooded roadway. It is extremely difficult to estimate the depth of running water or the strength of a current.

Never drive around barricades. They are there for a reason, usually because flooding is anticipated or has already happened. It only takes 1 to 2 feet of water to float most vehicles, including SUVs.

Average date monsoon season begins is July 7

Earliest monsoon season on record was June 16, 1925

Latest monsoon season on record was July 25, 1987

Average total number of monsoon days 56

Greatest number of monsoon days on record was 99 in 1984

Greatest number of consecutive monsoon days on record was 72 in 1984

Least number of monsoon days on record was 27 in 1962

Wettest monsoon on record was 9.38 inches in 1984

Driest monsoon on record was .35 inches in 1924

Average monsoon rainfall is 2.45 inches

Sandy Griffis is executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association. Email your questions to her at or call 928-778-0040.

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