Monsoon Awareness Week: Fun for the whole family

Move over, Disney Land – we can have a flood of family fun right here in Arizona with the upcoming monsoon.

Rain in 2007 that cancelled my July flight/Ryn Gargulinski

Rain in 2007 that cancelled my July flight/Ryn Gargulinski

We don’t even need to leave our Tucson abodes to experience the thrill of the season, which hits mid-June and lasts through the end of September.

The heavy storms are marked by flash floods, swamped streets, canceled flights and leaky roofs for those who never found the time, energy or money to get around to those costly home repairs.

Lest we forget this fine season exists, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has officially declared June 7 to June 11 Monsoon Awareness Week.

To celebrate the upcoming rains, we can get ready for a host of thrill and death-seeking activities that make Mickey Mouse look like, well, child’s play.

Please note below activities are only for the incredibly stupid or those who are harboring a deep-seated death wish. Do not try them at home, on the streets or anywhere else for that matter.

Dog walking path got a bit flooded in 2008/Ryn Gargulinski

Dog walking path got a bit flooded in 2008/Ryn Gargulinski

Let’s grab our rafts, inner tubes or any random, rickety flotation device to engage in some monsoon water rafting. This splashy activity involves treacherously zooming down rivers, washes or any place else that gets filled with swift-moving water after a heavy rain.

The slew of broken glass, mangled mattresses, rusty rebar and other debris that mingle with the water helps ensure we will be snagged, sliced or drowned in the process.

Driving through underpasses is one of the more popular Tucson monsoon activities, one that not only promises to most likely wreck our cars but also gets us on the evening news under the headline “Stupidity.”

The news spot works best if we are crying and appear especially dismayed that our car konked out in 8 feet of water. Ideal underpasses include those especially deep ones near downtown, like on Stone and Sixth avenues.

It was a dark and stormy sky..../Ryn Gargulinski

It was a dark and stormy sky..../Ryn Gargulinski

Even if we don’t drive through a flooded underpass, there are plenty of streets marked with highly visible yellow signs that warn us “Do Not Enter When Flooded.” Ignoring these signs, too, make for some keen adventures, as does driving manically through heavy rains on any streets when visibility reaches about zero.

If the rains come with heavy lightning, hanging out under a park pavilion seems the best activity yet. Since many of these wooden and metal structures contain specific and prominently posted signs warning us not to hang out there during a storm, we can gleefully thumb our noses at authorities and do so anyway.

Pavilion hopping is a bit less dangerous than most, since we would have to rely on lightning actually striking the structure and maiming us in the process.

Aftermath of 2008 storm (yes, that was my tree)/Ryn Gargulinski

Aftermath of 2008 storm/Ryn Gargulinski

On a serious note, a press release from the Governor’s office did include a few tips for those who value their lives and would rather stay safe – than dead – during the upcoming rainy season:

Prepare a Plan – Write and rehearse family communication and evacuation plans that identify a family meeting place, account for special needs like prescriptions and the family pet, and include local emergency numbers and an “out-of-town” contact.

Make a Kit – Gather enough non-perishable food and clean water to sustain your family for at least 72 hours. Suggested kit items include first aid supplies, a flashlight, a weather radio with extra batteries and toiletries.

Be Informed – Identify threats in your community. For instance, does the road into your neighborhood washout after a heavy rain?

For real-time emergency updates and preparedness information, visit

Double disclaimer: Just to reinforce the first disclaimer, this article was written in jest. Anyone who actually engages in the aforementioned rainy day activities runs the risk of injury, death or making a total fool of themselves on the evening news.


What do you think?

Have you ever seen or done anything incredibly stupid during monsoon? What was it?

Have you been injured or inconvenienced by the heavy storms? Please explain.


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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19 Responses to Monsoon Awareness Week: Fun for the whole family

  1. Maria Rodriguez says:

    I really like your monsoon artical, I really  miss  the  monsoons there in Tucson and that smell that comes with the rain.
    Keep the good work up, I will be a faithful reader.
                                                                          Thank You
                                                                               Maria Rodriguez

    • Rynski says:

      hey maria,
      thanks! for comments – and i agree with you – i absolutely LOVE the smell after a pounding rain – while my dogs really dig the puddles. hope you can come visit during this years rainy days (although i learned the hard way not to book a flight in mid-afternoon in july – hahah).

  2. koreyk says:

    In earlier years, several of Tucson’s north/ south streets, such as Country Club and Alvernon, were built with reverse crowns in a misguided attempt to double as storm drains during rainy weather.  The shoulders were banked up quite high, especially on Alvernon, so you could drive on the side of the road without splashing, even if the water was 18 inches deep in the middle.  Inevitably, every monsoon season there would be a newspaper clip, or a short newscast of a vehicle (almost always a pickup) driving on the high and dry edge towing some brave water skier down the middle.  I never heard of anyone hitting a wake and taking a tumble, and I don’t even want to think of how that might have turned out.

    • Rynski says:

      aw, man – i missed ALL the fun, didn’t i, koreyk? hahah.
      i cannot imagine the outcome from a flooded street wake or tumble, either – eek.
      waterskiing on flooded streets seems in the same vein as grabbing the back of a vehicle while on a skateboard – all fun and games until someone loses an eye (or torso).
      thanks for chiming in.

  3. Mike says:

    Stupid covers it but then again, I was just a youngster (10) when me and two of my friends decided to use the left over lumber from a housing project to “dam” the wash by our house.  We did a great job bracing the plywood panels across the wash to a height of about 8 feet.  We filled in all the gaps and proudly stood behind our accomplishment when the rains started that afternoon.  Pretty soon, as we gazed up the wash, the water started coming; not a lot at first but enough to see if our dam would work.  It had a few leaks here and there that we worked hard to stop but then we heard (and saw) this noise coming from upstream – turns out to be a 6 foot high wall of water!  Again we stood behind our dam and dared the water to get us.  Needless to say, the water won and we were lucky to survive the stupidity.  On an ending note,  our parents had to pick us up all the way across town when a couple of police officers were kind enough to fish us out of the torrent and call them to let them know where we were.

    • Rynski says:

      wow, mike – wish i had the ‘build a dam’ idea when i wrote up article – hahahah. so glad you and your pals survived the homemade torrent…get hurt – and, since it held so well for a spell, perhaps learned some valuable construction tips – haha.
      glad to hear, too, some kindly officers fished you out and brought you back home. ahh, the things i missed growing up in northeast…

  4. azmouse says:

    I love the monsoon season and hope we have a great one! I’ll be out dancing in it  😉

    I can only bet that most of us who were born in Tucson have done some pretty dumb stuff during the monsoon. I know I’ve cruised down many a raging wash on my butt….lost my shorts, but they were replaced by cactus! lol

    Scarier times were back in the eighties at Reddington Pass when I almost got washed away in a flash flood. A few folks weren’t as lucky as me that year.

    • Rynski says:

      that’s right – you’re a certified monsoon/rain dancer! hahah – always love the glee, azmouse.
      i don’t think i would very much like cactus shorts, however – ha!

  5. erniemccray says:

    I’m with you, azmouse. When I was growing up in Tucson I would do just that, dance in the monsoons. I, however, very stupidly took a inner tube ride down the Santa Cruz once, alone, and I think I ended up in El Centro or British Columbia or someplace. That was one of the most exhilarating and scary things I’ve ever done in my life. I was flying. And I would tell anyone: Do not do this!
    But I loved the monsoons (or anything else that hid the summer sun, like night time) and I miss them as we get hardly a trace of rain in the summer here in San Diego. If one is careful it can be a ton o fun. Just observing through your window is an experience.

    • azmouse says:

      That must have been one crazy ride, ernie! Yeah, any time it isn’t blaring sun, I’m loving it.

      Hope you are doing well, by the way…

    • Rynski says:

      british columbia! hahahhahahha!
      i agree that monsoon observing from the home can be a great experience – and a safer one than british columbia innertubing!

  6. This has to be the most overrated subject ever discussed. In other places in  the world it’s called rain. Or maybe heavy rain — oooooohhhh the terror of it all!

    • koreyk says:

      Funny thing…it’s called rain and heavy rain here also.  We don’t see it with the same frequency as many other places, so we react to it differently.

    • Rynski says:

      hey cecil – rain response DEF depends on location, location, location. i’ve witnessed the glee/ooohs and aaaahs of rain in the desert – and the high depression of rain, once again, on oregon coast (actually, the natives were pretty ambivalent about it – even going about their regular hikes et. al. in the endless torrents).
      i have come to enjoy the excitement that comes with monsoon.

  7. jhall says:

    I love the monsoons, but I haven’t seen a good flood in a long time.  The best sight during a monsoon storm was across the street from our house was just open desert.  The rains were so heavy that day accompanied by lots of lightening and thunder.  The lightening struck one of the Saguaro cactus close to the road that divided our home from the desert.  It looked really cool, pouring down rain and the cactus was on fire.  It took about 2-3 months for the cactus to fall over and die. 

    • Rynski says:

      hiya jhall –
      wow! the towering inferno saguaro sounds like a sight to behold, for sure! i don’t recall any good storms at all from last summer – when i reviewed any photos that were even semi-dramatic they were from 2007 or 2008.
      would love to have snapped a photo of the blazing saguaro!

  8. jhall says:

    I will have to check to see if I have any good photos.  It was pouring down rain, so I didn’t get any of it on fire, but I do have some of the saguaro after the fact.

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