Flash Flooding Inundates Phoenix, Airport Breaks 81-Year Record
Monsoonal moisture — associated with the now defunct Hurricane Norbert — has been streaming in across the Desert Southwest. And the influx of atmospheric moisture has lead to large amounts of rain falling over the weekend and into the beginning part of this week, especially in southern Arizona. Unfortunately, the spigot from the tropics isn’t likely to be cutoff until the middle of the week as the remnants of Norbert are still meandering off the coast of Baja California.
The wet, tropical airmass has lead to the shattering of at least one record at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The airport broke it’s all-time calendar day rainfall record, posting an impressive 2.96 inches. The previous record, 2.91 inches, was set 81 years ago.
— NWS Phoenix (@NWSPhoenix) September 8, 2014
And according to the National Weather Service in Phoenix, that nearly three inches of rain — in less than seven hours — dwarfs the 2.71 inches of rain generally seen during the average monsoon season.
While the airport may have recorded just under three inches of rain since midnight Monday, other locations in Arizona have seen much more. Here’s a roundup of the soggiest areas as of 12 p.m. local time:
• Near Tempe: 5.35″
• Near Chandler: 4.99″
• 11 miles south-southeast of Phoenix: 4.71″
• 7 miles west-southwest of Phoenix: 4.62″
• near Mesa: 4.48″
• near Scottsdale: 3.62″
The torrent of water released by overnight storms prompted a handful of high-water rescues. And according to KNPX, a local TV station in Phoenix, “The most dramatic scenes of the morning were from Interstate 10 near 43rd Avenue. There, rising waters stranding dozens of vehicles in a massive hood-high flood, which forced drivers to abandon their cars and wade to higher ground. I-10 was closed, and state transportation officials expected no improvement before lunchtime.”
The Arizona Department of Transportation says it has been working diligently to get closed roads reopened. And as of 1:30 p.m. local time, parts of I-10 swamped with water were back open. That said, the interstate remained closed from 51st Ave to Stack. Other roads remained closed and additional rainfall is expected through the day. So, if you live in the Phoenix area, remain weather aware and avoid roads that appear to be flooded. A foot of swift-moving water can sweep a small car downstream.
At one point, early Monday morning, Arizona Public Service — the state’s major power provider — reported more than 10,000 customers were without power. But by early afternoon, all but a handful of customers had service restored.
The intense rain also forced the closing of at least two dozen schools and a local community college. Classes are expected to resume on Tuesday.
All of this rain has lead Arizona’s governor, Jan Brewer, to declare a state of emergency in locations that were most impacted by the rain and flood waters. Governor Brewer also told all non-essential state employees to stay at home on Monday.
— Jan Brewer (@GovBrewer) September 8, 2014
Unfortunately the rain is likely to continue for the next few days as monsoonal moisture is pushed into the Four Corners region. A five day rainfall forecast from NOAA’s Hydrological Prediction Center suggests nearly three more inches of rain could fall across parts of western Arizona through the end of the week.
Below are a collection of images from social media that show the scope of the flooding in and around Phoenix.
WeatherNation meteorologists are keeping an eye on this developing situation and will bring you the latest both on-air and online.
Meteorologist Alan Raymond
Fallen tree and flooding in my backyard! First time in my 6 years in Glendale Az pic.twitter.com/BfXChdHzQ3
— Celeste Calapini (@cheechay) September 8, 2014
— Karoline Wightman (@KaroWightman) September 8, 2014
— Annie Z. Yu (@anniezyu) September 8, 2014
Flooding in downtown Phoenix. This is I-10, near Chase Field pic.twitter.com/YIMaRJvPgm
— Danny (@dahomes) September 8, 2014
— Philip M.H. (@kingofleos) September 8, 2014
Here's some flooding in a Chandler park. That little fence is a baseball backstop, so this is at least 10 feet. pic.twitter.com/8yddmcOhEO
— Matthew Hendley (@MatthewHendley) September 8, 2014
Big rain fall last night led to flooding like this all over GCU and Phoenix. Travel safe and only if you must! pic.twitter.com/oAmyl8TjYQ
— Derek Rosinski (@dmrStrength71) September 8, 2014
— Char D. (@DeweyWx) September 8, 2014