Monsoonal Madness

There are two things the Southern Rockies photographer looks forward to in July–wildflowers and the monsoon. With one week off to work with, I decided to get both in one week. First trip, a four day dash to Arizona to catch the monsoon. I wasn’t expecting classic monsoon, with a strange westward-moving low pressure system in the upper atmosphere (these lows usually move east!) expected to bring me my storms. I knew there would be plenty of storms, just wasn’t sure how much lightning there would be. If it rains too much, the usual surface heating gets stifled and the storms aren’t as strong. Turns out, that’s pretty much what happened–lots of storms, not so much lightning. And of course, all the big bolts happened off frame or in between clicks of my shutter!
But I did get to see this classic monsoonal sunset in the Arizona desert near Tuscon.

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Sunset in the desert.


And there’s nothing quite like the big cactus against a beautiful sky!
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Saguaro Sunset : Prints Available

Brilliant July sunset in Saguaro National Park.


I did grab this shot of the saguaro just after sunset, as the storms kept building over the mountains that surround Tuscon. Then I had to feign ignorance that the park closes at sunset, as a park ranger spotted my car and started inspecting it for contraband…
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Saguaro shortly after sunset during a monsoonal storm.

The next day, after stopping to say high to some old friends in Tuscon, I decided to head north, since there were fewer clouds in northeast Arizona and I figured that would lead to better storms. I targeted Petrified Forest in northeast Arizona. On the way, I stopped at Salt River Canyon, a spectacular landmark that I had never even heard of before. Too bad they defaced it by running a highway through it–not to mention all the garbage at every pullout along the way 🙁

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Rainy weather over the Salt River Canyon.

I turned out to be correct about my target–a strong storm began moving into the National Park as sunset approached. But once again I was unaware that the park closed at sunset until I was already at the front gate. So of course, I kept shooting until a ranger pulled over with lights flashing, and I made my apologies and packed up, as the storm of course became highly active. I guess next time, I’ll hike in with an overnight permit…

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A monsoonal storm hits the Arizona grassland.

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4 Responses to Monsoonal Madness

  1. You caught the essence of the Monsoon here, Stan. Nice!

  2. Todd says:

    Great set, Stan! Really love that last one.

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