April showers may bring May flowers in parts of the country, but monsoon season reigns in Arizona.
Mornings usually appear sunny and calm, but as the afternoon hours roll along, monster clouds form, lightening and thunder echo across the landscape, and the sky opens up and the rain falls. Washes turn to rivers and dirt roads become a swamp waiting to swallow vehicles to the axels.
Bullhead City residents saw the power of one such storm in 2018, bringing down utility poles and leaving members without power. It was an example of how severe these storms can be and the damage they can cause.
Outside of the utility poles, car ports were swept away, trees pulled out by the roots, wide spread flooding, and a great deal of post-storm cleanup and repairs.
“Monsoon season always has the potential to bring harsh, unpredictable weather conditions,” said Rick Campos, manager of engineering, operations, and energy services with Mohave Electric Cooperative. “Monsoonal storms are one of the reasons for MEC’s line-hardening effort; to strengthen the infrastructure and improve reliability.
“The wind speeds can make it feel like a hurricane and the rain, while usually short-lived, comes down so hard the mountains surrounding Bullhead City disappear.”
Infrastructure can’t always withstand the wrath of Mother Nature, but members can certainly aid in avoiding preventable outages.
There are some simple steps members can take to improve the odds of maintaining a consistent flow of power to homes.
“Securing car ports is a good example,” Campos said. “They can be lifted in the strong winds and sever power to a good number of homes. And it isn’t just about the flow of electricity, it also about being a good neighbor.
“Items can also be blown into another home or car. It’s just a good idea to bolt down car ports.”
Backyard items, such as lawn furniture should be secured before a storm as well as recreational equipment, such as trampolines.
Campos said it’s also important to keep trees well-trimmed, which makes them more wind resistant.
Along with efforts to provide reliable service, MEC is always concerned about the safety of its members and monsoon season is a time for caution and wise decisions.
Researchers report lightning strikes kill approximately 73 people annually in the United States. While the odds may be in a member’s favor to avoid such a fate, consider the fear people have for rattlesnakes, yet a person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to die from a venomous snake bite.
It is best not to trifle with the forces of nature and to seek shelter when storms roll in. Members recreating on the water should get to land as quickly as possible and those who are outdoors should get inside a home or a vehicle with a metal roof.
One lightning strike can generate anywhere from 100 million to 1 billion volts and temperatures can reach 50,000 degrees.
“Stay safe,” Campos said. “When the rains come, stay out of flooded washes. They’ll clear up soon enough and it’s always best to return home safe.”