You can’t really blame local TV weather forecasters for playing up the Arizona monsoon.
First of all, it poses a definite element of danger if you’re out driving in the middle of its often violent dust storms and thunder-and-lightning-laced downpours, usually in the late afternoons and early evenings in July and August.
And second, after going through May and June saying nothing but how it’s hot and getting hotter, if they could predict anything was going to fall out of a cloud, even if it was a torrent made of candy, they’d still be producing those ominous special reports you’ve been watching these last several days:
“Rainbow-Colored Sprinkles from the Sky: What YOU Need to Be Prepared.”
So you just have to applaud the Arizona Department of Transportation for taking a lighter approach to this admittedly hazardous time of year.
ADOT is employing social media to get all of us to talk about their “Pull Aside, Stay Alive” campaign, which in addition to staying out of monsoon storms applies to most any activity you shouldn’t do while driving: texting, shaving, applying makeup, yelling at your kids in the back seat or ducking down to the floorboards so the neighbors don’t see your ugly hairstyle.
As the annual monsoon nears, ADOT is asking us to contribute a “Haboob Haiku” or two on Twitter (#haboobhaiku), “haboob” being the Arabic name for the dust storms we get during the monsoon.
Monsoon is derived from the Arabic “mausim,” or “season,” which is why it is redundant to say “monsoon season,” but every new Phoenix weathercaster — and many of the old ones — are given to saying it all too often.
These short poems, ADOT is hoping, will get us to think about what nasty consequences there are to being on the road during haboobs.
Usually we don’t see these things start to pop up until early July, after several weeks of hot, dry conditions under high pressure that serves to draw moist, cool air from the Gulf of Mexico into Arizona from the south and southeast. (Our usual weather pattern has systems moving in from the west.)
So we might as well start talking haboobs up now, so longtime residents and newcomers alike can beware and be safe.
As for me, in the interest of sheer entertainment (because I know that others will do a much better job of keeping you aware and safe), I have provided a few modest examples below, expanding on the concept beyond mere driving to so many other ways the Arizona monsoon and its dust storms affect us all. Ahem:
Guys at the car wash / See the dark clouds approach / They go home early
A/C on my roof / Braves haboobs to no avail / As dust clogs its coils
Dirt forms patterns / On the white plaster bottom / My pool brush snaps
Pricey contact lens / Cursing my optometrist / Dirt stings and rips it
Front of New York Times / Had the storm that ate Phoenix / More mud for our rep
Walking through haboobs / Makes couples look much better / in their dusty eyes
Sweeping the driveway / Recycles the neighbors’ yard / on to the next block
I need a filter / My engine no longer breathes / Sorry, we are out
Lightning starts fires / No drops fall on the forest / Airplanes provide rain
Asthmatics wheezing / Wondering why they moved here / To feel much better?
Gape out the window / All at the office do it / No work accomplished
Car window left open / Too far to go and close it / Gritty seats await
Spring cleaning? No way! / In Arizona it’s best / to wait until fall
I hate the monsoon / How close is San Diego? / All their rooms are full
Read Tribune contributing columnist Mark J. Scarp’s opinions in the Sunday Tribune. Watch his “On the Mark” video commentary on eastvalleytribune.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.