During the winter, temperatures in southeast Arizona often fall below freezing at night, with daytime highs from 40-60 F. Even when temperatures are chilly in the morning it is wise to dress in layers so you can remove a jacket or sweater in order to be comfortable when the sun begins to warm things up. There is often considerable rainfall during the winter, but generally it does not take the form of thunderstorms. The snow that falls on the lower elevations usually melts before noon, though snow may accumulate in the higher elevations of some of the mountain ranges and many of the campgrounds in those elevations may be closed part of the winter.
Springtime in the mountains brings warmer weather, bright sunshine, lots of wind, but no April showers, regardless of what the songs say. (Rains generally don't arrive here till summer, the local rule of thumb being that they start about the Fourth of July and continue until Labor Day.) During the cool days of spring layering of clothing is a good idea.Even when it is chilly early in the morning, later the sun will generally warm things up to the degree that you want to peel off a few layers about midday. A tee shirt, light shirt, and windbreaker work well most days. Of course, if you are planning to spend the night camping in the mountains you need to prepare for the significantly colder temperatures that night brings at the higher elevations.
From July through September the semi-arid regions of southeast Arizona experience a shift in wind direction from westerly to easterly. This wind shift brings the area more than 50% of its annual rainfall, averaging about 6" over the 3-month period roughly from July to September. Severe thunder and lightning often accompany these rains, and flash flooding can occur in washes and low-lying areas. The monsoon storms usually cease in September. August is the month that brings the most rain and the most severe weather.
If you are outdoors at the time of a lightning- or thunderstorm, seek shelter in a house, hardtop car, or the cab of a truck. If you are unable to get to shelter, move to a low-lying area such as the bottom of a hill or a ditch. Do not seek shelter under trees, which can be targets for lightning.
If you are indoors, stay inside and remain far from windows. Be alert to lightning conductors such as electrical wiring, plumbing and telephone lines. To not touch metal objects in the house such as faucets. Avoid using telephones, electrical appliances, or plumbing during a lightning storm. Wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last thunder to begin or resume outdoor activities.
Summer is also wildfire season in many of the forest areas. Always check the fire danger signs and obey regulations regarding campfires etc. If fire danger is especially high, some camping and recreation areas may be closed.
Drink plenty of water
Summer temperatures vary throughout Cochise county depending on elevation, but generally they are in the 90-100 F. range during the day. Though those temperatures are cooler than those of Tucson and Phoenix it is still important to take precautions against heat exhaustion and heat stroke. During any outdoor activity in the desert, carry plenty of water and use protection against the sun.
Heat exhaustion is caused by a combination of extreme heat and dehydration. Symptoms include elevated body temperature, paleness, dizziness, nausea and fainting. Get into a shaded and cool area, rest and begin gently to rehydrate your body. If trying to drink water causes vomiting, seek medical help.
Heat stroke is more severe than heat exhaustion and can be life threatening. If body temperature reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit an individual may become delirious or unconscious. Immediate hospitalization is necessary to lower body temperature and administer fluids under medical supervision.
To avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke, stay indoors during the hottest part of the day. Save strenuous activities for cool morning or evening hours. Wear clothing that "breathes" and drink plenty of water. Strenuous activity and extreme heat deplete our body's water supply much more quickly than normal day-to-day activities do. If you have children with you, monitor the amount of water they drink to make sure they're getting enough. Each child should have his own personal water bottle or canteen so you can check that he's really drinking.
After the monsoon rains of summer end (about Labor Day), the weather in Cochise county is idyllic. Cool nights and mornings are energizing while the afternoon sun still provides plenty of cheer and warmth.
Ghiglieri, Michael P. and Thomas M. Myers. Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon. Flagstaff: Puma Press, 2001. River guide Ghiglieri and medical doctor Myers have collected more than 500 accounts of fatalities in the Grand Canyon, but this book should be required reading for anyone hiking, climbing or rafting anywhere in the southwest deserts. Flash floods, heat stroke and dehydration are dangers encountered throughout the state.