Thursday Aug 28 I get soaked again!

  Wow 75 to 100 mph winds and 1.25 to 1.6 inches of rain in my area.


Hurricane-force winds, heavy rain hit Valley

by Parker Leavitt - Aug. 29, 2008 08:41 AM

The Arizona Republic

Powerful thunderstorms ripped across the Valley Thursday night, bringing heavy rain and winds reaching 100 mph that broke the windows of a condominium, shutdown two runways at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and downed hundreds of trees, that seriously hurt at least one child.

Thousands of residents remain without power Friday morning as utility crews try to get electricity restored.

Central Phoenix and Tempe seemed to have been hit the hardest, with parts of the Phoenix receiving almost 2 inches of rain. Scattered debris forced the closure of Sky Harbor north and central runways. By around 7:30 a.m., only the central runway was closed. Street sweepers were working to clear the runway, and the airport had reported no major delays for travelers Friday morning.

Downed traffic lights throughout the Phoenix metro area have forced several road closures, including 40th Street between Cactus Road and Shea Boulevard.

Arcadia doors and windows were damaged at a condo in central Phoenix near McDowell Road and Central Avenue. Part of what appeared to be the roof rested against the light rail station on Central Avenue. Saint Mary's Catholic High School in Central Phoenix was closed, apparently because it had no power. APS power crews are also working to restore power to 32,000 residents across the Valley.

The storm struck Tempe particularly hard, with winds approaching 80 mph along Hardy Street. In Tempe, winds approaching 80 mph along Hardy Street. Dozens of large trees were uprooted and thrown across streets and even onto rooftops.

Arizona State University officials said the storm damaged the school's new $8.4 million indoor practice facility that's mostly used for football.

The fabric roof on the structure was shredded and the bubble dome had completely deflated.

The 103,500-square-foot facility was completed this month. Mark Brand, ASU's assistant athletic director for communications, said nobody was injured by the storm hitting the practice facility.

But one serious injury was reported elsewhere. Nancy Kekedakis, 59, said a tree fell on her grandson, Shane Harris, as he walked down 5th Street around 9 p.m. Harris, was taken to a hospital to be treated for several broken bones and contusions.

“I thought I was in the middle of a tornado. Trees fell and there was crashing everywhere,” Raul Chavez, 34, who lives near 2nd and Hardy streets, said,

Taylor Folks, 29, said that she and her cat, Charlie, were huddled in her living room while the storm roared around her apartment and trees fell.

"Charlie wasn't too happy about it, and neither was I," said Folks. West Valley also experienced the damaging winds and rain. Trees were down at West Valley Hospital.

More thunderstorms are possible for Friday afternoon, with possible wind gusts up to 50 mph, according to the National Weather Service. Small hail and localized flooding are also possible.

"If this isn't the biggest event in the monsoon season, it's right up there," said Ken Waters, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

Thursday night in Phoenix, a power transformer exploded on Seventh Street near McDowell Road, in the same area where downed poles and trees surrounded stranded vehicles.

Hundreds of lightning strikes were seen throughout the late evening in the central Scottsdale area; downed trees littered the Shea Boulevard corridor.

Residents of the Monte Vista Apartments stood next to a 40-foot pine tree that was ripped from the ground. The residents talked about the night's storm as the tree's roots shot into the sky.

"It's the worse storm I've ever seen and I've lived here my entire life," said Alec Perkins, 23. "The tree wasn't split in half, it was completely uprooted."

Concertgoers at the Cricket Pavilion said their show was interrupted by the storm's fireworks.

"The show on the stage is nothing compared to the one in the sky," said Lane Baysden, 35, of Phoenix. "It was about as windy as God would want it to be for Judas Priest."

The Associated Press and Republic reporters Jahna Berry and Scott Wong contributed to this story.


Storm damages ASU practice facility

Aug. 29, 2008 12:55 AM

Mark Brand, Arizona State University's assistant athletic director for communications, said that the school's $8.4 million indoor practice facility was damaged Thursday night during storms that went through the area.

No one was hurt, Brand said.

The 103,500-square-foot climate-controlled facility was just completed this month. It is a bubble of fabric supported by air pressure that was constructed to give athletes a break from the heat.

The structure is 65 feet high and large enough under roof - 460 yards by 220 yards - to house 75-yard and 45-yard practice fields, each with an end zone.

The structure, funded by earmarked donations, is just south of the existing football practice fields and east of Rural Road. The site formerly was used as the marching band's practice field as well as for intramural games and sits west of the planned basketball practice facility and the softball stadium.

Russell Schilt, a 22-year-old ASU student, said he walked about the school's practice facility to see the bubble roof in shreds from the storm.

Schilt said he was surprised at the damage the new building took.

"The bubble dome had completely deflated," he said.

The team broke its tradition of holding camp at Camp Tontozona this season because of the completion of the facility.

Unlike previous years, the team was at the camp about 17 miles northeast of Payson for just one day this year, Aug. 16.

The indoor facility has offered the team more than a break from the heat.

It also has a synthetic surface, FieldTurf, which help prepares the team for their road games, ASU coach Dennis Erickson said earlier this month.

"We play just about everybody on the road on FieldTurf, so that helps," he said.

"We will use (the bubble) in different situations. If they're a little sluggish because of the heat we could go in there. There are different reasons that you might go in there, but I want to stay out as much as we can."

Other teams and athletes have been using the facility, in addition to the football team.

"It's a good change of pace," junior wide receiver Kyle Williams said earlier this month. "(Outside), guys are losing weight and cramping up. The first day out here, I was light-headed, ready to pass out. Going in there, it's nice."

Reporters Jahna Berry, Scott Wong, Tim Tyers, Doug Haller and Richard Obert contributed to this story.


August 28, 2008 - 10:10PM

Updated: August 28, 2008 - 11:30PM

Hurricane-force winds pound East Valley

John Leptich, Eddi Trevizo, Tribune

Mother Nature must not be a Sun Devils fan.

Monsoon winds of up to 100 mph late Thursday destroyed Arizona State University’s recently opened $8.4 million, 103,000-square-foot “bubble” football practice structure at Rural Road and University Drive in Tempe.

Saturday’s Sun Devils’ season opener against Northern Arizona University at 7:15 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium isn’t affected by the damage.

Winds measured at 85 mph and shown on radar and up to 100 mph wreaked havoc on the Sun Devils bubble.

The “bubble” structure, which had a fabric roof, is unusable for the rest of the season. ASU is in the process of assessing the damage, school spokesman Mark Brand said. Initial estimates to repair the roof are $900,000 to $1 million. The concrete foundation and FieldTurf surface weren’t damaged. The Sun Devils practiced at the facility eight times, including Thursday afternoon.

Lightning put on a good show throughout most of the East Valley. Jim Homan, who lives in the 8100 block of East Southern Avenue in Mesa, said he has never seen anything like it during his 55 years in the valley.

“I saw two lightning bolts hit,” the 80-year-old Homan said. “It was like a bomb went off. It kind of looked like the rocket fireworks they shoot off at ballgames.”

About 500 passengers spent the night at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as storm damage to runways and power outages halted travel. The airport was closed for about an hour Thursday night at the height of the storm. The National Weather Service reported up to 1 1/2 inches of rain at the airport.

Terminals, runways and aircraft were damaged, according to spokeswoman Deborah Ostricher. The airport was running Friday morning with one runway open and a second close to being ready for planes, Ostricher said. Debris is still being cleaned from a third. As of 7 a.m., there were no major delays, but Ostricher suggested passengers or others picking up travelers call airlines to check on departure and arrival times. Ostricher said winds at Sky Harbor were 80 to 100 mph.

Meteorologist Valerie Meyers of the National Weather Service said there’s a 30 percent chance of rain and thunderstorms Friday night. The weekend could also see precipitation, she added.

“Mother Nature is getting into a uproar for the next week,” Meyers said.

A Salt River Project spokeswoman said the company had about 6,000 customers without power early Friday, while Arizona Public Service Company estimated 50,000 customers had no electricity.

Penny-sized hail, nonstop lightning, heavy rain and hurricane-force winds in a fast moving storm struck Thursday night in the East Valley that left the entire Valley under a severe storm alert.

“We’ve had the worst unusually potent storms and strong winds with this storm,” said Doug Green of the National Weather Service in Phoenix in the middle of the storm. “ Here at Sky Harbor, it was hurricane force ... had a peak of 75 mph winds, but there is still a lot of precipitation coming.”

Live power cables downed by the storm trapped occupants for a time in a city bus at Fifth Street and Hardy Drive in Tempe, according to Tempe fire officials. No passengers were injured.

Nonstop lightning flashed in the sky at a constant rate causing fire concerns. Several trees, homes, transformers were struck by lightning all over the East Valley.

Lightning sparked a fire at a transformer near Germann and McQueen roads in Gilbert, according to Mesa fire officials. A house also was struck by lightning near Warner Road and Quinn Avenue in Gilbert.

And in Ahwatukee Foothills, hail the size of pennies pelted homes and vehicles.

Street flooding and power failures also were reported as the storm picked up power and drenched several East Valley cities.

A microburst over the Chandler Airport produced a heavy downpour that left .51 of an inch of rain in a short time. Rainfall at Chandler Boulevard and Alma School Road reached .91 of an inch. Several roads in Gilbert were overflowing, according to Gilbert authorities.

Salt River Project officials reported that 25,000 homes in Mesa, Tempe, Ahwatukee Foothills, south Chandler and Scottsdale had no power late Thursday night due to lightning and strong winds.

“The biggest threat right now is the fast moving thunderstorms and fast developing storms. We also have heavy winds at about 55 mph or greater,” Green said .

The Valley was under severe thunderstorm warning and urban flooding advisories until after midnight Thursday.

- Tribune writers Dan Zeiger and Michelle Reese contributed to this report.


August 29, 2008 - 7:50AM

Travelers stranded overnight at Sky Harbor

Michelle Reese, Tribune

About 500 passengers spent the night at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as storm damage to runways and power outages halted travel.

Terminals, runways and aircraft were damaged, spokesperson Deborah Ostricher said. Thursday night's storm brought lightning, rain and hurricane-force winds around the Valley, Doug Green of the National Weather Service in Phoenix told the Tribune.

Hurricane-force winds pound East Valley

“ Here at Sky Harbor, it was hurricane force ... had a peak of 75 mph winds, but there is still a lot of precipitation coming,” Green said Thursday night.

Ostricher said airport officials offered extra assistance to passengers.

“We did have people in the terminals overnight due to the delays and we made them as comfortable as possible. We had food services open, provided them with water and blankets as needed and had extra staff on to support their needs,” she said.

The airport is running this morning with one runway open and a second close to being ready for planes, said spokeswoman Deborah Ostricher. Debris is still being cleaned from a third.

“We brought street sweepers in from the City of Phoenix. I'm looking at them lined up, 10 of them are driving down the runway bumper to bumper,” Ostricher said.

The Phoenix-Gateway Mesa Airport also sent runway sweepers to help Sky Harbor.

“The runways overnight were closed as a result of the storm. There was debris on the runway as well as runways lights being out,” she said.

The airport's backup power source was needed.

As of 7 a.m. There were no major delays, but Ostricher suggested passengers or people picking up travelers call the airlines.

“Because we're not at heavy traffic time on the airfield we're not experiencing delays but as we move into the 8 to 10 a.m. Hour, if we don't have all three runways up, we could have some delays,” she said, adding that with Labor Day weekend at hand, traffic is scheduled to be higher than normal.


August 29, 2008 - 7:48AM

Storm damages ASU practice bubble roof

Dan Zeiger, Tribune

The fabric cover of Arizona State's new indoor football practice facility was damaged in a storm on Thursday night, sending the "bubble" structure to the ground and leaving it unusable for the rest of the season.

ASU is still in the process of assessing the damage, school spokesman Mark Brand said, but initial estimates to repair the roof are $900,000 to $1 million. The concrete foundation and FieldTurf surface remain intact.

No one was injured.

The Sun Devils practiced eight times, including on Thursday afternoon, in the $8.4-million facility that opened earlier this month. The roof of the 103,000-square foot facility is supported by air pressure.

"We're not sure how it happened," Brand said. "The fabric could have been torn by lightning, the dome could have deflated because of an extreme power outage, or something else. We'll spend the next few days assessing things."

ASU begins its season at home against Northern Arizona on Saturday.


Valley cleans up in aftermath of monsoon storm

by JJ Hensley - Aug. 29, 2008 08:47 PM

The Arizona Republic

Even by the Valley's temperamental monsoon weather standards, Thursday's storm was one for the ages.

With wind gusts of up to 100 mph, more than 1,500 lightning strikes recorded in a single hour and a multimillion-dollar path of destruction stretching from the southeast Valley through central Phoenix, the monsoon storm left hundreds of thousands of area residents going to sleep without power and many more awestruck at the devastation when they awoke Friday morning.

"It was the most frightened I've ever been in my life," said Marilyn Barrows, a resident at the Regency House condominiums near Central Avenue and McDowell Road, where winds blew out about 20 windows and damaged doors. The storm's impact lingers for 3,400 homes without power in central Phoenix and Tempe, a far cry from the nearly 80,000 Valley homes that lost electricity Thursday night. Arizona Public Service officials expect power to be restored by the end of the weekend, and the Red Cross opened a cooling shelter at Arcadia High School in the meantime.

And there may be more frightening weather to come.

National Weather Service forecasts called for more storms tonight with the most powerful front expected to roll through the Valley tonight and early Sunday morning.

The rain marks a continuation of one of the most productive monsoons on record - with nearly 6 inches, this year's already ranks as the 10th wettest on the books - but it would take a meteorological convergence of cosmic proportions to elicit a repeat performance of Thursday night's show, said Keith Kincaid, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

"Not only was it longer, there were several (storms) that went across the same path," Kincaid said. "The aerial coverage was just tremendous. If you look at the loops of the radar, it stretched from Fountain Hills all the way down to Gila Bend."

The most brilliant signs appeared in the southeasterly skies about 8 p.m. with several hundred lightning strikes, but the storm had been brewing hours earlier with winds of up to 50 mph whipping around the moisture 20,000 feet above the mountains in Gila County.

When a trio of storms stacked up in the Mazatzal Mountains, the stage was set. One by one, they marched into the metro area, producing a show of force Valley residents haven't seen for years.

Hundred-year-old trees were uprooted in Phoenix, roofs were stripped throughout the Valley as block walls toppled and dumpsters were tossed around like tin cans; normally dry roads in Tempe became small lakes and large swaths of the Valley went dark as power poles snapped like toothpicks. The most visible damage came at Arizona State University in Tempe, where an $8.4 million indoor-athletic facility was demolished.

It was standard monsoon fare on steroids.

"I thought I was in the middle of a tornado. Trees fell and there was crashing everywhere," said north Tempe resident Raul Chavez, 34.

As dawn broke on Friday, the digging out began.

Officials in Tempe and Phoenix couldn't put a dollar figure on the damage the storm left behind, but city crews, residents and independent contractors spent the day trimming downed trees and tending to power lines.

Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said colleagues called him Friday through the early morning with updates on the storm.

He eventually learned of several hundred uprooted trees, including one on his property, in addition to damaged historic buildings in the Encanto District. The Encanto Park that sits in the heart of the district has been ordered closed indefinitely as crews tend to fallen trees and debris.

Debris from the storm blocked dozens of city intersections. Police received more than 100 calls about faulty traffic signals alone.

"We expect our street transportation department to continue their efforts (in coming days) to restore our city as quickly as possible so we can enjoy this Labor Day weekend," Gordon said.

Phoenix used 20 street-sweepers to clear debris early Friday, 11 of which were sent to clear runways and taxiways at Sky Harbor International Airport.

An estimated 300 trees were down near the airport leaving runways and taxiways closed and about 500 passengers stranded in the facility for the evening.

Republic reporters Parker Leavitt, William Hermann, Adam Sneed, Michael Ferraresi, Lisa Halverstadt and Alyson Zepeda contributed to this article.

More on this topic

Rainfall totals

  • GateWay Community College, Phoenix - 1.89 inches.
  • Arizona State University, Tempe - 1.46.
  • Stoneridge Dam, Fountain Hills - 1.30.
  • 64th Street and Osborn Road, Scottsdale - 1.22.
  • Chandler Airport - 0.98.
  • Broadway and Dobson roads, Mesa - 0.91.
  • Gila River Reservation - 0.75.

Source: Maricopa Flood Control District

The storm that lit up the Valley

  • 7 to 8 p.m.: 34 lightning strikes, East Valley
  • 8 to 9 p.m.: 503, southeast Valley.
  • 9 to 10 p.m.: 1,561, East Valley and Phoenix.
  • 10 to 11 p.m.: 511, southeast Valley and central Phoenix.
  • 11 p.m. to midnight: 469, in a line from Laveen through Phoenix to Scottsdale.
  • Midnight to 1 a.m.: 147, throughout Valley.
  • 1 to 2 a.m.: 24, throughout Valley.

Whom to call

  • For shelter information, call the Red Cross: 602-336-6660.
  • For power-outage information, call APS: 602-371-7171.
  • For bulk-item pick up in Phoenix call 602-262-7251 and in Tempe call 480-350-8949.

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