Do Not Enter When Flooded – Saguaro National Monument, AZ

“Why in the world is there a flood sign next to a cactus?” I wondered as I rode Woody down the desert highway.

But it’s a common sight along these desert roads: a yellow sign that warns of drowning next to a cactus that could use a drink.

What a way to go; drowning in the desert.

The reason for this eccentric signage is the monsoon.

I usually associate that word with the tropics: Australia, India, Bangladesh. Those guys get monsoons. They have to worry about their Third World cars swirling downstream to face invetable drowning under too-low bridges.

We don’t get monsoons in the United States, especially in the desert. We’re above it.

Seems I’m wrong.

The Arizona desert typically gets most of its rain in late summer. While it’s only a few inches per year, it often comes all at once.

The desert is lined with washes, which we call gullies back home. They run cross country regardless of roads or houses.

When the summer deluges strike, it drains off the desert floor right into those gullies. In mintues, they can go from sandy low spots to raging rivers. And back to dry.

They carry away twigs, branches, even whole trees. And if you’re the poor sucker oggling the saguaro gracing the dip in the road.

Well, you can figure it out…



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