Important Things to Do in Monsoon Storm

20 Steps to Take Before and After a Monsoon Storm

Last summer we hosted a student from France who lived with us in Arizona throughout the month of July.

Unexpectedly, the biggest surprise for her was not the heat, but the lightning. She told us they rarely have lightning in Paris.

But July in Arizona is smack dab in the middle of monsoon season, which always comes with lots of lightening and even thunder. It was a whole new experience for our French friend.

One night, we were driving back from San Diego, when a huge monsoon storm rolled over us between Phoenix and Casa Grande. In addition to blinding dust, huge wind gusts, and torrents of rain, there were thousands of lightning strikes all around us as we drove back to the valley.

Our little French student’s eyes were as big as saucers as the sky flashed and cracked around us.

Monsoon season in Arizona officially starts on June 15th and runs through the summer months until the end of September.

The monsoon storm pattern is caused by high dewpoints, above 55 degrees, which come from water rising from low pressure zones in the Gulf of Mexico.

This water combined with our high temperatures creates the unique monsoon weather pattern.

The monsoons can bring rain with them (but they don’t have to) which can cause flash flooding and water damage, but they are especially characterized by high winds, dust storms, microbursts, and even tornados all resulting from the high dewpoints recorded here in Arizona during the summer months.

With monsoon season upon us and the first storm already on its way, there are some important steps you can take to protect your home and yard and ensure you are prepared for both before and after the storms.

Here are the 20 steps before and after the storm hits


1. Tree Care

It’s hard to predict when a monsoon storm will hit, but it’s wise to be prepared all season long for the possibility one will develop.

A little work before the storm, may save you big repairs and costly problems after.

Before storm hits the first step is to take care of your plants and trees.

When you drive around town after a monsoon storm, there are downed trees everywhere.

These fallen trees can cause additional damage to property, homes, and power lines.

Because high winds are one of the biggest factors during a monsoon, you need to prepare the trees on your property to better withstand their heavy gales.

Always loosely double-stake small and newly-planted trees.

The support should be loose enough to allow the tree to bend in the gusts, but staked securely to give the young trees added support and prevent them from being uprooted or snapped off in the wind.

Trim and thin branches from mature trees to reduce the weight of the limbs.

Branches that are too heavy are especially susceptible to strong winds and microbursts, as the trunk cannot bear their weight under the force of the blowing wind.

If a limb comes off a tree, it can cause damage to nearby houses or vehicles and large trees can even be uprooted when their limb structure is too top heavy.


2. Check the Soil

During monsoon season the ground can quickly become oversaturated especially after several consecutive days of rain.

This leads to much higher chances of runoff and flooding.

Unmonitored, automatic sprinkler systems can exacerbate the problem.

You can check the moisture content of your soil by pushing a screwdriver into the dirt.

If the screwdriver easily slides into the soil, turn off the water system to your sprinklers until things dry out a little more.

This not only saves water and money, but it can help diminish the chance of flooding by reducing oversaturation of the ground.


3. Inspect Windows and Doors

During monsoon season, huge dust clouds engulfing the Phoenix valley are not uncommon.

Check all your windows and doors before the season starts to make simple repairs that will prevent water and dirt from entering your home.

If there is space around the seals on your doors, or you can see light around the door frame, replace the worn weather stripping to completely seal the door.

Even small amounts of water that come through the cracks in your doors or windows, can cause water damage to wood and drywall, which is more difficult to dry out completely when dewpoints and humidity are high.

This dampness can lead to warping and encourages mold and fungal infestation.

Additionally, by sealing off cracks and spaces, you can prevent large amounts of dust from getting inside your house and covering your furnishings and contaminating your inside air.

Dust can irritate the skin and lungs, and the dirt and allergens kicked up by the monsoons frequently cause allergies and breathing difficulties for many people.


4. Examine your Roof

Regularly examine your roof for loose tiles and shingles both before and throughout monsoon season.

You can have a professional give you an assessment or you can visually inspect it yourself.

Tiles can easily shift or loosen due to high winds, leaving you exposed to additional wind damage and water penetration.

Checking for loose tiles can prevent collateral damage from falling roof tiles and obviously thwart any water from entering the home.

Monsoons are notoriously good at creating and exploiting roof damage.

In the middle of a fierce storm, you won’t be able to climb up onto your roof and tie a tarp in place. Do what you can before they hit to make sure your roof is in good shape.


5. Install and Clean Out Rain Gutters

Rain gutters and downspouts divert the rain from a monsoon downpour or microburst away from your home and your home’s foundation.

Make sure the gutters are clean and free of obstructions so that they can do their job and prevent pooling and flooding around the perimeter of your foundation.

The more barriers you have in place to prevent flooding, the better off you will be.

Monsoon rains can be very intense, dropping as much as 2 inches of rain an hour.

Blocked gutters can quickly be overwhelmed by this much water, causing water to pool on the roof or overrun the gutters to collect at the foundation of your home.


6. Assess your Home's Drainage Patterns

In addition to having properly working rain gutters, you can reduce the chance of flooding by evaluating the current drainage patterns in your yard.

If you’ve noticed any drainage issues that causes water to pool and gather, make sure you have it attended to before the monsoons arrive.

Flood damage is not covered by your standard home owner’s policy and you want to do everything you can to prevent water from entering your home.

You can regrade, add a new drainage system, or even plant and build barriers to ensure the water flows away from your house rather than pooling next to it.


7. Clean Out the Garage

Before the monsoons come, it is the perfect time to clean out your over-stuffed garage.

Parking your car or bicycles outside the garage, in the driveway or street, puts them at risk of flying debris and falling trees.

Clear out enough space in your garage to park your cars and bikes where they will be better protected when the wild winds and choking dust start blowing.

Go through the boxes in the garage.

Rally the kids and sort through the stuff that has accumulated. Have a yard sale.

Donate unwanted items. Remove the items you no longer need, use, or want, to make room to protect more valuable items like your cars and bicycles.


8. Move Furniture

Microbursts and high winds are very powerful and can easily move light patio furniture or yard equipment and send it flying into your neighbor’s yard or even through your kitchen window.

Over the years we have lost more than few pool umbrellas and towels to an unexpected storm.

Unbelievably, last year my neighbor’s full-sized trampoline was picked up in a microburst and dropped into the yard of the house behind his like it weighed nothing at all.

Move or secure light patio furniture, umbrellas, pool toys, and other unsecured property into the house or garage before the storm hits.

(Yet another reason to clean out that garage!) Winds during a monsoon storm can range anywhere from 40-100mph, with violent updrafts, and are extremely strong and powerful.


9. Prepare for Power Outages

Prepare ahead of time for power outages by storing enough water, non-perishable food items, and energy sources to sustain you and your family for three days.

Make sure your kit includes:

  • #1.
    3 gallons of water in clean, closed containers for each person and pet
  • #2.
    A first-aid kit
  • #3.
    Food for three days that requires no cooking or refrigeration
  • #4.
  • #5.
  • #6.
    Charged auxiliary power packs for cell phones
  • #7.
    Necessary medications and back-up power sources for life support or other medical equipment

Extended power outages are less and less common as the old wooden poles and above-ground lines are systematically being replaced by underground lines.

In 2008, parts of the Willo neighborhood in Phoenix was without power for three days due to all the power poles in the area going down.

Microbursts can cause the power lines to snap and generally wreak havoc with above-ground utilities.

Power can also go out from lightning surges or the monsoon storm can cause a transformer to blow or catch fire, so it’s good to always be prepared.


10. Update your Electrical Panel

Clearly label or relabel the different sections of your electrical panel so that you can easily identify the circuit breakers for each room or area of your house during a storm or while using only a flashlight.

Monsoon storms are generally accompanied by large amounts of lightning and if a breaker trips during a storm you can easily reset it when the panel is properly labeled.

You can also consider hardwiring a surge protector directly to your electrical panel.

This device keeps appliances and electronic equipment, like computers and televisions, from being damaged by electric surges or other power problems.

You can also use power strips for additional protection inside your home where expensive and sensitive electronic equipment is plugged in.


11. Get Rid of the Dust

The one good thing about monsoon storms is that they are usually fast moving storms.

They can leave a lot of damage in their wake, but they rarely hang around for long.

Once the rain and the wind and the lightning have passed, what do you need to do to clean up and prepare for the next one?

Get Rid of the Dust

First, clean up.

After a storm, the air will be full of fine particles of dust.

It’s a good idea to change the air filters on your air conditioning ducts.

Normally, you change your air filter about every three months, but during monsoon season, we’d advise you change it every 2-3 weeks because the storms will kick up lots of dust and allergens.

The air filter’s job is to trap dust and dirt to protect your air conditioning system.

When a filter gets too clogged with dust, air can’t pass through it easily.

This makes it so that your air conditioner has to work harder and longer to cool your home, running up your energy bills.

Too much dust clogging the filters can cause the condenser coils to freeze and stop working, and can even cause a premature breakdown.

And as long as you’ve got the hose out, wash down the patio and the outdoor furniture as well.

Preventing accumulations of dust and dirt will help your furniture last longer and allow you to still enjoy your patio between storms.


12. Clean the Pool

Monsoons storms carry large amounts of dust, pollen, and debris. These can turn a pool green very quickly.

You need to brush and clean your pool quickly after a storm passes to remove dirt and prevent the growth of algae.

Treat the pool with the appropriate chemicals to prevent the growth of biologic materials.

Remember to empty the skimmer baskets regularly after storms when there is a significant increase in leaves, foliage, and other foreign materials floating in your pool.


13. Wash Your Car

As trivial as it seems, and as silly as it can feel when another storm may hit the very next day, be sure to wash your car after a dust storm.

Even if you’re car was in your garage during the storm, the garage has more cracks and openings than your livable space and is more susceptible to filling with dust.

The dust particles sitting on your car can cause fine scratches and damage the paint or short out sensitive electronic components that could be costly to fix.


14. Report Flooded Areas

If your neighborhood or city streets flood, contact your city officials. Most cities in the valley have monsoon information, phone numbers, and emergency procedures on their websites.

Report any fallen trees or large debris on roads or sidewalks to city officials as well so they can be safely removed.

Do not ever approach or touch downed power lines.

Consider any downed power line to be energized and dangerous.

High voltage can actually travel from the line through the ground, so stay at least 100 feet away and call authorities.


15. Do Not Drive through Standing Water

If you do find flooded streets, never drive through the standing water. According to the National Weather Service, nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle-related.

Cars, and even SUVs, can stall and float in as little as 10 inches of water, ruin the engine, and leave you stranded.

Do not ever attempt to drive through moving water either, as it is impossible to accurately assess the rate and power at which it is moving, and you can be easily swept away.

Every monsoon season there are people who have to be rescued from their stalled cars when valley streets and washes have suddenly turned into raging rivers.

A few years ago, my son was trying to drive to school one day after a night of heavy monsoon rains.

Knowing that he shouldn’t drive through deep water that was covering the roadway, but still wanting to get to school, he decided to drive across the dirt lot next to the road and avoid the standing water.

I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

Even though the dirt lot was wet, it looked passable.

But, remember, it had been raining all night and the ground was completely saturated.

In a matter of seconds he was completely stuck, the car slowly sinking into the mud.

He called me from the car, stranded and unable to extract himself from the mud.

That car wasn’t going anywhere.

Eventually, we had to have a tow truck with a winch pull the car from the mud.

Lesson learned.

If the road is covered by water, turn around and go home.

We’ll just call it an Arizona “snow day.”


16. Do Not Play in Flood Waters

Often after a monsoon, there are greenbelts, canals, and other runoff areas filled with water.

Do not play in this water or allow your children to play in it either.

The water carries nasty germs and dangerous debris from whatever it came into contact with on its way from hitting the ground to pooling in the flooded areas.

You can get very sick or injured playing in this murky water.

Generations of Arizona children have taken their boogie boards and pool noodles out to happily play in the flooded greenbelt only to end up with an ugly, itchy rash all over their skin.


17. Remove Standing Water Around Your Home

As you walk around your yard after a storm, remove any standing water left from the rain that has pooled in empty pots, bird baths, garbage cans, or other areas.

These are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and germs.

Take note of any large areas of standing water on the ground.

These indicate low points in your yard that need to be regraded and properly addressed to avoid possible flooding.

Consider picking up sandbags if the ground cannot be regraded in a timely manner.

Sandbags are the best way to divert water from doorways and help to protect your home from flooding during a monsoon storm.

Free sand is provided at many fire stations throughout the Phoenix valley.

In some cities, the stations also provide bags and shovels for use, but others only have sand available and require their residents to bring their own shovels and bags.

Call your local fire department or check its website to see what is provided in your area and what you will need to get sandbags for your home.

Be sure to remove any water that may have pooled by your foundation.

Rain water collecting near the foundation of a house can, believe it or not, enter the concrete.

Concrete foundations are porous, and the water moves through it, filling any pores it can find.

Over time, water that seeps into concrete foundations can cause the foundation to break down and eventually the foundation can crack.

Once a foundation cracks, you can get shifts and the home can become unsettled.

Siphon any standing water away from your foundations after a storm.


18. Assess Any Damage

Take a tour of your property. Look for any obvious damage or noticeable concerns.

Does your roof need repair? Did you lose any trees or branches? Is your vehicle damaged?

Conduct an informal inspection to assess any damage to your property. Make note of all damages and document everything with pictures.

In 2010, a monsoon storm dropped 3-inch, golf ball-sized hail on parts of the Phoenix valley, causing severe damage to rooftops, cars, and even shattering windows.

The extensive damage made it the most destructive storm in Arizona history, with claims over $3 billion dollars.

More than 150,000 homeowners made claims and used pictures and video to catalogue the destruction.

Take special note of your roof in your inspection.

Look for missing tiles or shingles.

Be on the lookout for water penetration or seepage in your ceilings.

Check the eaves for signs of water staining or damage.

If you see any spots where the ceiling has bubbled, put a bucket under the bubble and pop it so the water won’t travel through the porous building materials across the entire ceiling.


19. Contact your Insurance Company

If you have damages to your home or property, contact your home owner’s insurance company to start the claims process.

An adjustor will usually be assigned to inspect the property so that repairs can be started.

Especially in cases where the damage has left the interior of your home exposed to the elements or vulnerable to the next monsoon, it is important to get started immediately on repairs to prevent further damage.

If you have any water damage, these areas need to be dried out as quickly as possible to prevent mold growth or further deterioration, so it’s important to act quickly.


20. Hire Reputable, Licensed Contractors

If you have property damage that needs repair or restoration, research and find an accredited company with highly rated customer service and ethical standards.

Make sure the company is licensed to perform the work on your home.

Unfortunately, Arizona residents have been victims of out-of-town, unlicensed companies that take payment and then disappear and leave town before work is completed.

Sometimes these shady contractors will go door-to-door after a storm and insist that you need the work done immediately. Be wary of any company that you did not personally seek out.

You can always check reputations, track records, and customer reviews with the Better Business Bureau and Arizona’s Registrar of Contractors.

You can request a list of references from any contractor and obtain multiple estimates for the work you need done.

An honest contractor will assess the work, and then give you a written, itemized estimate and a job schedule with an anticipated completion.

Monsoon season is busy for restoration, plumbing, and roofing contractors.

Make sure you choose a company with the resources and manpower to handle all their jobs.

You don’t want to be waiting endlessly for repairs as storm after storm rumbles its way through the valley, compounding your problems.

Titan Restoration of Arizona has been helping homeowner’s recover from monsoon storms for over two decades.

We have the experience and knowledge to get your property back to its original condition, quickly and painlessly.

We have a proven track record of excellent work with thousands of satisfied customers.

Over the years we have seen everything from missing roofs to flooded basements to patio furniture coming through the sliding glass door.

At Titan Restoration we are on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We know that monsoon storms hit any time, day and night, and we are equipped to immediately dispatch crews to emergency calls all over the valley whenever they are needed.

Last year, we received a call from a family in Chandler.

A microburst hit their front yard, uprooting a pine tree and effortlessly tossing it though their roof into one of the bedrooms.

The ceiling caved in exposing the eaves and dumping insulation, rafters, and drywall into the room.

Water, dust, and debris from the storm soon followed.

Where there was once a bedroom ceiling and protective roof, there was now a kind of indoor arboretum, exposed to the elements, with pine branches reaching down into the room.

The microburst had instantaneously transformed their house into a wrecked treehouse of sorts.

Our team immediately got to work, first taking steps to reduce the home’s exposure to the elements in the case of another storm. The family had collectables and memorabilia in the room that we carefully removed and safeguarded so they wouldn’t be damaged. The tree and building debris were removed and hauled away. Temporary tarps were systematically set up and to protect the home from further damage, and fans were set up to dry the saturated wood.

The section of the roof damaged by the tree had to be rebuilt with new beams and rafters and then reinsulated. The room itself was restored including new drywall, paint, repairing the closet, and replacing and casing the damaged windows. When we finished, the house and room were beautifully restored and completely dry and protected from the elements.

The reality is that while there are steps we can take to get ready for monsoon season, these storms are unpredictable and extremely powerful. You can’t foresee or prevent all the destruction the monsoon season can cause to your personal or commercial property, despite your careful preparation. But if the monsoon storms damage your home or property, no matter how large or how small the job, Titan Restoration has the experience and skills to help you clean up and rebuild. We’re there, whenever you need us, to put things right and restore your property to its original, beautiful condition.

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