PHOENIX, AZ (KPHO) — Record-breaking rainfall in the Valley of the Sun played havoc with early morning commuters, closed schools and caused extensive power outages.
Heavy downpours early Monday morning brought freeway traffic to a crawl, closed many surface street intersections and placed the state on a flash flood watch for the rest of the day.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport reported 3.06 inches of rain since midnight, breaking the record for the date by nearly 2 inches, Ken Waters of the National Weather Service said.
It marked the wettest day on record for Phoenix since record keeping began in 1895, Waters said.
Buckeye received nearly 5 inches, according to the Maricopa County Flood Control District.
The National Weather Service extended a flash flood warning until 10:30 a.m. for Maricopa, Pinal and Yavapai counties.
Interstate 17 was closed at Indian School Road and U.S. Highway 60 (Grand Avenue) was closed between 51st and 59th avenues because of heavy flooding, the Arizona Department of Transportation said.
Traffic was brought to a crawl on Interstate 10 in the Buckeye area and water was up to the hoods of several vehicles and at least 27 vehicles were stalled in the standing water at 43rd Avenue and I-10, Bart Graves of the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.
Jim Sampson said he was waved through by law enforcement officers when a wave from a passing vehicle passed over his sedan, causing it to stall.
A master scuba diver, Sampson said he waited for the water inside his vehicle to equalize the water outside before he could open his car door to get out.
An expectant mother in a Hummer said she feared for her life after her vehicle stalled. She had to be rescued from her car by strangers, including a 13-year-old boy, CBS 5 News’ Christina Estes reported.
Scottsdale police reported that Indian Bend Wash had crested at several bridges and water was flooding Hayden Road at some spots.
Motorists were asked to delay their commutes because of the dangerous road conditions, Graves said
DPS officers were diverting traffic from many Valley freeways to surface streets, Graves said.
Maryvale Municipal Golf Course measured nearly 3.5 inches of rain and South Phoenix seemed to receive the brunt of the storm with several reporting stations measuring more than 3 inches.
In the East Valley, the Tempe Union High School District said numerous road closures were delaying school buses from picking up students. Classes were optional for students.
The Washington and Glendale elementary school districts also reported delays.
The Buckeye Elementary School District and the Saddle Mountain District in Tonopah canceled classes for Monday because of the dangerous driving conditions.
Jeff Lane of Salt River Project said the utility’s power outage map looked like “a Christmas Tree” with as many as 9,500 people without power. He said power lines and poles were down in several locations.
A weather pattern channeled deep moisture associated with former Hurricane Norbert and combined with monsoonal activity to bring the heavy rains, lightning and thunder into Arizona, CBS 5 meteorologists said.
Tropical moisture feeding into the state from the south strengthened the pattern and led to a series of thunderstorms in some parts of the CBS 5 viewing area before 6 a.m. Monday.
Thunderstorms were expected throughout the rest day, tapering off some by mid-day but gathering momentum again Monday afternoon and evening, CBS 5 Meteorologist Katie Baker said.
Norbert, now a tropical storm, was moving parallel to Mexico’s Baja California peninsula after pounding fishing villages and resorts. Authorities said more than 1,000 homes were damaged and hundreds of people forced to flee to higher ground.
Norbert grew to Category 3 status Saturday. Though staying away from land, it’s passing near enough to the coast to drench fishing villages and resorts, and pound beaches.
The Baja California Sur state government reported 500 people there had gone to shelters and health officials were taking steps to fight mosquitoes in stagnant water to prevent the spread of dengue. At least 2,000 people have been evacuated from Los Cabos, La Paz and Comondu.
“While we won’t see that storm even get close to Arizona, the weather pattern setting up will sweep the deep moisture associated with that storm into the southwestern U.S.,” CBS 5 Chief Meteorologist Chris Dunn said.
With our monsoon weather remaining active through the weekend and into next week, be sure to check in with us on-air, online and on your phone with the CBS 5 app for the latest weather updates and interactive radar.
Some Phoenix residents are wasting no time preparing for possible flooding.
A pair of south Phoenix families know what that’s like all too well. Every time it rains, even just a little, their homes flood. Jenny Nuñez said she’s put up with it for 10 years.
“We like it here. We’ve been here a long time,” Nuñez said. “It’s just too much.”
In just the last month, Nuñez and her neighbors off 19th Avenue and Broadway have mopped their homes clean of flood waters twice. Every time it starts to rain, she fears the flash flood.
“[The water comes in] I’d say in the matter of four to five minutes,” she said.
A monsoon storm last year blasted her neighbor’s home with heavy rains and 7 inches of flood water inside. Audrianna Rogers said she never knows what to expect with a rainy forecast but she has to be prepared for the worst. Rogers has cinder blocks stacked outside her front door.
“We’re going to put some more up and put sand around the door so it won’t come in,” Rogers said. “It’s hard. You just have to be strong.”
With sandbags on standby and a dry mop ready for use, Rogers and Nuñez are prepped for another round of rain and whatever flooding another storm will dish out.
Many other Arizona residents are still flood weary from soaking rains that inundated their neighborhoods last month.
A massive wall of dust coated everything in its path as it blasted through the Valley on Saturday evening in what turned out to be a prelude to more big weather changes in store as the work week began.
The Phoenix area was under a dust storm warning until 8 p.m. Saturday as the monsoon kicked in again.
Dust flew as winds were gusting between 25 to 40 mph.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has asked for federal help in assisting those whose homes and businesses were damaged in last month’s flooding in Maricopa County.
The governor sent a disaster declaration request Wednesday to the Small Business Administration.
Maricopa County received rainfall on seven of eight consecutive days between Aug. 12 and 19. The storms produced flash flooding that impacted more than 350 homes.
Laveen received 3.97 inches of rain, while New River received 6.85 inches.
Officials found there was major damage to at least 41 homes and businesses and minor damage to an additional 61 homes and businesses.