Summer Storm Delays Flights, Causes Power Outages In Phoenix

Published: Friday, August 4, 2017 - 8:33am
Updated: Friday, August 4, 2017 - 2:56pm

(Photo courtesy of Jim Phipps)
Storm damage in the Tempe neighborhood Colonia Del Sur near McClintock Drive and Baseline Road.
(Photo courtesy of Jim Phipps)
Flooding in the Tempe neighborhood Colonia Del Sur near McClintock Drive and Baseline Road on Aug. 3, 2017.

A summer storm in Phoenix brought lightning, strong winds and sheets of rain that flooded streets, delayed flights and left thousands of people temporarily without power Thursday evening.

The storms made for a frightful commute for motorists as torrents of water poured from darkened skies onto Phoenix roadways and power outages turned off stoplights. Emergency vehicles rushed through the opposite lane of traffic amid broken tree limbs as cars clogged the other side of the road.

Huge trees were uprooted, blocking traffic, and especially heavy street flooding was reported in nearby Tempe.

The roof of an unoccupied furniture store collapsed, apparently under the weight of water, and fire authorities said there was also flooding at a neighboring supermarket. No injuries were reported.

The Phoenix Zoo will close on Friday while workers clean up and assess damage to the grounds, mostly from downed trees. All animals were reported safe and accounted for, Phoenix radio station KTAR reported.

Water bubbling up from the drainage system pushed the covers off several manholes outside Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, forcing drivers to navigate around fountains of water as they picked up passengers. Some flights were delayed and diverted around 5:15 p.m. because of heavy rain, lightning and 50 mph gusts, but most departures and arrivals were back to normal an hour later.

Strong winds knocked down electrical wires in the northeast part of Phoenix near Scottsdale, resulting in numerous power outages. Arizona Public Service Co. officials said about 10,000 of its customers lost power around 5 p.m. and full service was not expected to be restored until later in the evening.

Salt River Project, the other power company in the area, said about 1,500 of its customers in Glendale lost electricity, but those outages were expected to be fixed quickly.

Mark O’Malley with the National Weather Service says rain was falling so hard and so fast that there was issues in many areas including the water pumping systems on area interstates.  This morning, the Arizona Department of Transportation says there was an issue with a pump at the U.S. 60, but pumps at other freeways performed, “as designed,” according to an ADOT spokesperson.

O’Malley says the weekend forecast will be dry with little chance of storms.

Another location impacted by last night’s storm was the Phoenix Zoo which will be closed today.

Linda Hardwick with the Phoenix Zoo said that along with other structural damage several trees also went down, including a 50-foot-tall eucalyptus. They’re also cleaning up lots of mud and debris.

All animals are accounted for and safe. The zoo will make their decision this afternoon if they will be closed for more than one day.

The summer monsoon is as unpredictable as ever. As you just heard, last night’s storm was a powerhouse in some parts of Valley…while others got just a few sprinkles. A couple of months into the monsoon, how are we doing?

Let’s check in with Ken Waters, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

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