Evil-looking Southern Arizona Skies

My favorite time of the year here in southern Arizona is the monsoon season, which runs from early July to sometime in September. The monsoon rains bring the desert back to life after the baking heat of June, and many of our native wildflowers bloom at this time.

Our Arizona monsoons are characterized by a pronounced shift in the weather pattern bringing in subtropical moisture from the south, which when combined with our daily desert heating and uplift from the mountains, brings frequent, often violent thunderstorms. These thunderstorms can develop surprisingly fast and often have frequent lightning, high winds, and brief, heavy downpours, but luckily tornados are very rare here.

The often unstable weather here in southern Arizona at this time of year produces ever-changing, often wonderfully dramatic skies, such as these evil-looking skies which were photographed before, during, or after a thunderstorm.

Sunset thunderstorm over Tucson, Arizona

Tattered and dying sunset thunderstorm over Tucson.

Sunset thunderstorms over Arizona's Sierrita Mountains

Mix of growing and dying sunset thunderstorms over the Sierrita Mountains.

Cloud iridescence above a thunderstorm in Tucson, Arizona

Cloud iridescence above a developing afternoon thunderstorm in Tucson.

Sheet lightning in a Tucson, Arizona evening thunderstorm

Lightning illuminating an approaching wall of rain during a nighttime thunderstorm in Tucson (lightning like this without a visible bolt of light is called sheet lightning).