PHOTOS: Rare Flooding Prompts Water Rescues in Phoenix

By Michael Kuhne, Staff Writer
August 22, 2014; 4:55 AM ET
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Monsoonal moisture from the tropics slammed the Phoenix area and other parts of the Southwest with heavy rainfall Tuesday.

By Tuesday evening, some locations had received more than 4 inches of rain, NOAA reported.

"There were slow-moving bands of heavy rainfall that tracked across the area, producing rainfall rates of more than 1 inch per hour," Meteorologist Brian Edwards said.

(Photo/carpomuertos) Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said it is not unprecedented to get flooding in the Phoenix area, and cited various instances in which the region has been inundated by severe flooding since the late 1800s.

"This is not a set-up we see every year," Rayno said, referring to the monsoonal moisture which normally brings isolated thunderstorms to the area, and an upper low moving across California that contributed to focusing the storms just north of the area.

The combination of the focused storms, terrain and Arizona soil all worked together to provide the conditions for damaging floodwaters that swept across the region north of Phoenix, he said.

Several reports of flooding and water rescues were reported northwest of the Phoenix area, according to Phoenix Fire Department and Rescue officials.

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Portions of Interstate 17 north of the city were inundated by floodwaters, which forced its closure. Several other roadways were also closed due to flooding, and there was a report of a rockslide along I-17, according to NWS spotters.


Edwards said the storms will continue into the evening hours before the weather quiets down later in the night.

"It's unusual to get rainfall rates that significant, but if it's going to happen, it will happen this time of year with the monsoonal moisture," he said.


Each year, moisture from the tropics sets in across the region.

"It occurs during the latter part of the summer and early fall, July to early September typically," Edwards added.


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