In the arid Southwest, the weather is extreme. Storms build in minutes, catching drivers and hikers off guard. Roads become rivers; slot canyons flood. Hail crashes down from the sky; lights flicker. The monsoons bring life-giving rain in the driest months of summer, but with life comes danger.
You can see black thunderheads form over the trees on the eastern horizon in the late afternoon. You can feel the change in the wind and the cool breeze that overtakes the hot sun. Soon, sheets of rain are falling. Drainage ditches swell and overflow into the streets. And the parched earth is so unused to moisture that it cannot absorb it. Cold water flows over the hard dirt and pools in the roots of the Ponderosa pines.
For an hour or two the world is dark and wet and cool. Afterward, the clouds will part and drift away, leaving broken twigs and pebbles on the road and rainwater in the gutters, until the next day, when the dry soil and raging wildfires will be quenched.
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Jonny Eberle is a writer and photographer in Flagstaff, AZ. Sometimes he stands in the rain, even though he owns an umbrella. You can follow him on Twitter: @jonnyeberle.