Monsoons in Grand Canyon
During the summer here in Northern Arizona, winds from the south blow in moisture from the Gulf of California. In the morning when the sun heats the Inner Canyon, hot air rises and collides with the cool, moist air above. This collision creates amazing, short-lived afternoon thunderstorms which we call monsoons in Grand Canyon.
Video: Grand Canyon Monsoon at Redwall Cavern
In July, August, and early September (monsoon season) these storms hit Grand Canyon on an almost daily basis. The storms can bring some dramatic clouds, winds and lightning – an amazing site when you are Grand Canyon river rafting. Luckily these storms are often short lived and usually come as a refreshing, cooling afternoon and evening thunderstorms.
The monsoon causes tributaries like the Little Colorado and Havasu Creek to run brown and carry enormous amounts of sediment into the main river turning the Colorado River muddy brown as well. This causes fishing in the Grand Canyon to be difficult.
While the threat of flash floods and lightning strikes accompany monsoon season, there are some easy steps to minimize the danger. If you are on a commercial trip guides will avoid certain hikes when the weather looks ominous. Monsoon season can be a beautiful time of year with hundreds of waterfalls following a rain event. Once the threat of lightning passes, take a look outside to see just how much these crucial rains change the landscape. Smell the rain-soaked dirt and watch plants and flowers come back to life. Look for a rainbow overhead and listen as the birds start to sing again.
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