2.5 inches of rain in Tempe

  I got out of the library at 4:10 and it was raining like crazy along with lightning. The lightning seemed to be coming from 2 directions, the northwest and the south which could have been because two storms merged as it said in the newspaper.

I took the bus from Ray Road to Broadway in Tempe and it was heavy rain all the way. When I got off the bus there was literally a river of water flowing in the street and part of the sidewalk. The current was very strong when I stepped in it.

I hung out in Safeway for a half on hour and by then it had stopped pouring rain and you could walk around with out getting wet.

Man this is weird weather. First we try to set the record for the most 110+ days in a year and now we are trying to set the record for monsoons with the most rain.


Section of U.S. 60 reopened after closure 80 commentsby Jeffrey Javier and Ron Sanzone - Jul. 13, 2008 10:15 PM The Arizona Republic Gilbert resident Greg Harriman, 27, was one of many surprised motorists left stranded after swift torrential rains Sunday hit the East Valley.

His game of golf was rained out in South Phoenix and on his way home was stranded for two hours on the U.S. 60 between the Loop 101 and the Interstate 10 junctures.

"We weren't moving at all and people were getting out of their cars," Harriman said. "We thought it was a really bad car accident because of the rain."

Harriman said the rain was just as bad in South Phoenix where he saw motorists stranded in water almost two feet deep.

The flooding started at about 4 p.m. with about 2.40 inches of rain falling around Tempe. Tempe was one of the hardest hit by the monsoon with Valley cities recording high numbers as well.

The Department of Public Safety closed down about five miles of the U.S. 60 between the Loop 101 and the Interstate 10 junctures to ensure more drivers didn't strand themselves.

The freeway was closed for about 3 1/2 hours as the Arizona Department of Transportation Tunnel Control activated pumps to drain the water. The drainage pumps didn't work the first time, but were operating soon after.

Motorists were allowed to travel on the west and eastbound lanes at around 7 p.m.Chandler resident Holly Anne Cathcart was with her husband traveling on the Loop 101 North when "the storm started pouring buckets of water."

"People started to pull over to the side of the freeway because you couldn't see much in front of you," Cathcart said.

The monsoon not only affected motorists but homeowners as well.

Salt River Project had 5,600 homes in Phoenix and the East Valley without power a little before 4 p.m. because of weather-related incidents. Power was expected to be restored by midnight.

Meteorologist Alan Reppert of AccuWeather.com said the Valley has so far received 1.44 inches of rain, exceeding the typical July rainfall amount of 0.99 inches.

Rain and thunderstorms similar to Sunday will last until Wednesday with a slight chance of showers heading into the weekend.


July 13, 2008 - 3:58PM

Updated: July 13, 2008 - 11:46PM

Heavy rains pound Valley, prompt freeway closure

Mike Branom, Tribune

Dry to deluged in minutes.

A powerful storm - two storms, actually - pounded the East Valley on Sunday, forcing motorists to scramble atop their vehicles in flood-closed roads and highways across the region.

More than 2 inches of rain fell in some places, at astounding hourly rates. Phoenix's official gauge had taken in 1.3 inches as of 9 p.m., crushing the previous daily record of 0.61 inches.

The rain came down with such intensity, runoff overwhelmed the storm sewer system at the intersection of Interstate 10 and U.S. 60. A massive traffic jam developed because the Kyrene Road underpass was an impassible pool of water starting about 5:15 p.m..

"Things are very hectic out there," read the Arizona Department of Public Safety's terse alert.

The closure lasted about two hours.

However, there were no immediate reports of traffic-related car crashes late Sunday.

"Traffic may be slowing down considerably if the rain is heavy, which would be a good decision," DPS Sgt. William Duff said.

But not too far away, people found unexpected fun in their backyards. At the Ahwatukee Foothills development of Lakewood, floodwaters turned a greenbelt into a lazy river, attracting neighborhood children bearing inner tubes.

"We've never seen this before," Lakewood resident Ellen Abbadessa said. "It's kind of wild."

Combined with the downpour that struck last week, the monsoon season of 2008 is off to a soggy start.

"This has been an active week," said Mike McLane, a service hydrologist at the National Weather Service's office in Phoenix.

In five days, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport received more than 2.1 inches of precipitation; an average monsoon season, in its entirety, delivers 2.77 inches.

What took place Sunday afternoon was a combination of a water-laden atmosphere ready to burst, plus two triggers: heat and colliding storms.

Over the past few days, the air over Arizona has been remarkably moist, McLane said. For example, Friday's dew point was 70 degrees - 15 degrees higher than the traditional benchmark for monsoon conditions.

Early Sunday afternoon, the sun's warmth started the process of thunderstorms firing in the mountains. But as one storm crept toward the Valley from the northeast and another from the south, they pushed ahead of them winds called "outflow boundaries," McLane said. Those winds came together shortly after 3:45 p.m. and ignited a massive outbreak.

Adding to the mayhem was the fact these storms were not very fast moving, so they tended to park and drop rain over one area. This explains why a Maricopa County Flood Control District gauge in Guadalupe receiving 2.4 inches, the most in the Valley, got more than 2.2 inches in an hour, beginning at 3:55 p.m.

Of the East Valley cities, Tempe received the most rain. Totals included 1.93 inches (Priest Drive at the Salt River), 1.38 inches (Arizona State University campus) and 1.18 inches (intersections of loops 101 and 202). At the last site, more than an inch fell in 45 minutes, which forced the closure of the nearby intersection of Curry and Scottsdale roads. Tempe police spokesman Sgt. Dan Masters said it appeared water was coming up out of manholes.

In the short term, the weather service is forecasting for today a chance of mainly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms. Then the air is expected to gradually become drier and warmer by the middle and latter parts of this week. This will reduce the likelihood of showers and thunderstorms to a slight chance in the region, mostly over the higher terrain.

High totals as of late Sunday in other cities were: Scottsdale, 1.54 inches; Ahwatukee, 1.38; Mesa, 1.06; and Gilbert, 1.02.


More rain likely today

Jul. 14, 2008 08:15 AM

12 News

There is a 30 percent chance of more storm action Monday afternoon and evening after heavy rains swept across the valley Sunday. High temperatures today may top 100.

Temperatures will increase and the threat for storms will decrease by midweek as high pressure builds. Highs will settle back to the normal range - about 107 degrees by Wednesday, with only a 10 percent chance of storms in the higher elevated areas north and east of Phoenix through the weekend.

Sunday's monsoon dumped up to 2 inches of rain an hour in some areas. Hardest hit was Tempe, where the storm flooded underpasses along the U.S. 60, closing the road until the waters receded. Tempe High School's parking lot flooded and the residents who live in an apartment complex across the street saw water rush through their front doors.

In Ahwatukee, where some residents say more than an inch of rain fell, surface streets like Ray Road became traffic nightmares. Some drivers ignored the flooded street, choosing to dart across lanes of traffic to avoid and sometimes speed through the water which accumulated on the road.

In the West Valley along I-10 near 75th Avenue, the rain at times was falling parallel to the highway. More rain, some expected to be heavy, is in the forecast for Monday night.

In Tucson, the storm knocked down about 12 power poles in one area, cutting the electricity to about 3,100 customers, said Joe Barrios, a Tucson Electric Power spokesman.

The National Weather Service issued an urban- and small-stream flood advisory for southeastern Arizona and parts of Yavapai County in northern Arizona.

The weather service warns that most flood deaths happen in vehicles and urges drivers to stay away from any areas where water covers the roadway, noting that even just a foot of water can sweep vehicles off the road.


July 14, 2008 - 9:04PM

Updated: July 14, 2008 - 10:10PM

Valley cleans up after Sunday’s record storm

Mike Branom, Tribune

In the muddy aftermath of one of the wettest monsoon storms to soak the East Valley in years, the buzzword was “overwhelmed.”

Heavy rains pound Valley, prompt freeway closure

Roof collapse closes Ahwatukee school

Monday was devoted to cleaning up the havoc created the day before, when too much rain fell in too short a span of time. There was a threat of more storms, but they skirted the Valley to the north and east.

The National Weather Service said the 1.3 inches recorded by its official gauge on Sunday was more than just a daily record — it was the most precipitation from a monsoon storm since August 1995.

Most of the damage was found in Tempe, where hourly rates of rainfall approached 4 inches. Flooded out were roads, U.S. 60 and residences such as Marlo Archer’s.

“There’s a bathtub ring around the backyard!” exclaimed Archer.

On Sunday afternoon, the Tempe psychologist first celebrated the storm by standing in the downpour and letting the rain wash over her. But not too long later, Archer watched in shock as a drainage canal behind her home overflowed its banks and pushed water against the yard’s cinder-block wall before crashing through.

The backyard filled with muddy water, leaving a visible high-water mark about 18 inches off the ground. Then, the flood pushed against the sliding glass door before spilling inside the West Auburn Drive home.

Electronics, books, photo albums and furniture were all potentially ruined, and the Archers’ insurance company said it wouldn’t pay.

“In all fairness, it probably isn’t in our policy to be covered for surface water,” said Archer, standing in her dank, damp living room. Husband Jon was in the backyard, where almost every low-lying surface was coated with brown silt.

Salt River Project, which owns the Highline Canal, blamed the rain.

“The water delivery system was overtaxed,” SRP spokesman Jeff Lane said.

Also overtaxed on Sunday afternoon was the pump system for U.S. 60. When water rapidly began to collect in the Kyrene Road underpass, the three pumps could only do so much before an impassible lake formed, halting dozens of vehicles for two hours.

“It really was an extraordinary event,” Arizona Department of Transportation spokesman Doug Nintzel said.

About three-quarters of a mile away from the nature-made traffic jam, a Maricopa County Flood Control District gauge in Guadalupe took in 2.2 inches of rain in an hour.

But a privately owned rain bucket near Rural and Guadalupe roads, part of the University of Arizona’s Rainlog.org project, took in an astounding 3.24 inches in just 50 minutes.

By Monday, the skies had calmed down. Still, the popular desert recreation area of Seven Springs, about 11 miles northeast of Cave Creek, was drenched by more than 2 inches of rain.

“It hit pretty hard for about an hour and a half,” Flood Control District spokesman Joe Munoz said.

Nearby Bartlett Lake saw more than a half-inch of rain in six hours, according to the agency’s gauges.

Yet the day’s storms only touched pockets of the northeast Valley. Parts of Cave Creek saw slightly more than a half-inch of rain, while areas of north Scottsdale only showed two-tenths of an inch.

After the storm passed through north Scottsdale, it blew to the east and southeast. By 3 p.m., normally dry washes near Roosevelt Lake were filled with runoff. An hour after that, weather spotters in Florence reported street flooding and marble-sized hail.

Over the next few days, a turn for drier and warmer weather is forecast by the Weather Service. But computer models are indicating that thunderstorm activity may increase by the weekend.

Reporter Mike Sakal

contributed to this story.


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