What Arizonans Need to Know about Weathering the Monsoon

AAA tips for preparing your home and car for summer storms


Phoenix, June 10, 2013. From flash floods to haboobs, monsoon season brings some of the most hazardous weather Arizonans experience all year.


“A monsoon can change weather conditions in an instant,” said Brad Oltmans, vice president of insurance for AAA Arizona. “As a full-service insurance agency, AAA urges homeowners and motorists to be prepared before a storm strikes this year.”


The official start of the monsoon season is June 15. Though the storm season doesn’t typically gain momentum until July, it’s never too soon to prepare. AAA Insurance experts offer the following tips to protect homes, prepare vehicles and to stay safe on the road during this year’s monsoon:

Homeowners should:

  • Review your homeowner’s policy. Ensure they are protected against storm damage, including a flood. Standard homeowner’s policies do not have flood coverage.
  • Secure outdoor furniture, fixtures and garbage cans. Even in weak storms, these easily can be blown over, causing damage to the object, homes, or people.
  • Stake and prune trees. Drive wooden stakes at least two feet into the ground, and secure young trees to them. Trim heavy or dead branches on larger trees.
  • Prepare for electrical surges and outages. Protect sensitive electronics, such as computers, gaming systems or televisions by using surge protectors. Also, keep flashlights and batteries handy. 

Drivers should inspect the following on their cars:

  • Windshield wipers. Arizona’s dry heat and direct sun exposure can cause wipers to crack and break.
  • Headlights and brake lights. Bad weather reduces visibility. Ensure all lights are working properly to see and be seen.
  • Brakes. Faulty brakes can lengthen stopping distance. Ensure brakes are in proper working order to be able to stop safely.
  • Tire tread. As tread wears, tires lose their ability to grip a wet surface. To check for adequate tread, place a quarter head first into the grooves of the tire. If any space above Washington’s head is visible, it’s time to replace it.
  • Insurance policy. Motorists generally need a comprehensive policy to be protected against storm damage. Liability coverage only, for example, does not cover damage from hail, wind or rain. 

On the road, drivers should adhere to the following:

  • Slow down. Roads become slippery when water mixes with oil, dirt and grease, making it harder to control a vehicle.
  • Don’t tailgate. Stopping distances are greater on wet, slippery roads.
  • Allow extra time to get to their destination. Traffic is heavier in bad weather.
  • Refrain from driving through flooded areas. It only takes a few inches of rushing water to move a vehicle. Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law” allows agencies to collect up to $2,000 for water rescues if drivers get stuck after purposely driving in flooded areas.
  • Do not take photos while driving. That wall of dust moving across the highway would make for an amazing photo or video – if the driver wasn’t driving. Motorists should keep their eyes on the road in front of them, hands on the wheel and mind on the task at hand at all times. This is especially important during inclement weather.
  • If a driver is caught in a severe storm and cannot drive safely, they should move completely off the roadway and stop with the lights off. They should remove their foot from the brake to ensure brake lights are not lit. This will prevent other drivers from following their taillights, thinking they are still on the road. Never stop in the travel portion of the roadway.

“Avoid driving at all during these storms, if possible,” Oltmans said. “Unfortunately, monsoons typically hit just before the evening commute, which is why it’s imperative to be ready.”

AAA is a go to source for insurance information. To learn more, visit AAA.com/insurance.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance travel and auto travel services to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways. The auto club also provides discounts and financial services to AAA members. Since its founding in 1927, AAA Arizona has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.