For 300 days out of the year, Phoenix weather is boring. This statement, by the way, is blatant evidence that I am not a native Phoenician. These people, heat-addled as they are, insist that they do have a full complement of seasons, plus a bonus fifth season to distinguish the early dry summer from the later wet summer.
Those of us who come from other places sometimes have difficulty appreciating the subtlety of the Sonoran climate. To the uninitiated, it feels like this: Sunny and pleasant with the chance of rain two days out of the month; then sunny and warm with a chance of rain once in a month, then sunny and hot with very little hope of rain, then sunny and really hot and we don’t even remember rain; then sunny and excessively hot (that’s a NOAA term, not just mine) with so little memory of rain that even the birds start panting.
But after a few weeks of excessive dry heat (109 today, thanks for asking), we finally get wet summer, although “wet” is a relative term. Officially, the monsoon season starts June 15, but the calendar is usually well into July before the first storms blow in. And they literally blow in, with wind gusts to rival a weak hurricane. But the first storms are all wind. And by July, we haven’t had rain in months. So the first storms are dust storms. And the first of those is blowing in right now.
They come in suddenly, these storms, first a shift of the light, then the trees start tossing their branches, and then a wall of dust is bearing down and everything goes dark.
I knew it was coming. I felt the slight stickiness in the morning air–close to 30%, which doesn’t sound like much but dry summer hovers around 5%. When I took Frances for a walk before work, I saw the clouds clustering low on the horizon. I can’t remember the last time I saw clouds, so I knew something was on its way. By late afternoon, I was getting emergency alerts on my phone.
And here it is. A sky full of dust and litter and Valley Fever spores and lightening and soon the sirens will start up and tomorrow I’ll have to clean up the yard and wash the windshield and sweep the patio. But for now, I’m just glad to have some weather that isn’t boring.