Hail hit the East Valley on Thursday, making many neighborhoods look like a winter snowstorm had rolled through.
The fast-moving storm started west of Phoenix and shot across the Valley, bringing wind, rain and hail. Tempe had the largest hail — three-quarters of an inch in diameter, said Hector Vasquez of the National We at her Service in Phoenix.
The service issued a severe hail warning for about an hour. In addition, Vasquez estimated there had been 200 lightning strikes in the East Valley. Mesa, Gilbert and Apache Junction fire officials said residents could pick up sandbags at fire stations to protect against possible flooding. And again, the roof at the Freestone Recreational Center in Gilbert leaked.
There were no reports of serious damage or crashes because of the storm.
"They said after today it’s going to get hot again and I don’t like that," said Arizona State University student Sree Vadi, 25, who had never seen hail in three years in Tempe. "This is nice though."
Homeless Tempe residents huddled under a roof just off Mill Avenue. They didn’t think well of the storm.
"It affects us a lot," said Tanya, 22. "We can’t sleep, we can’t do nothing."
Tanya said the place she normally sleeps gets flooded out whenever storms hit.
Patricia Garcia Likens, a Salt River Project spokeswoman, said Thursday’s storm won’t have much of an effect on the drought that has plagued the Valley for several years.
"It’s a drop in the bucket," Likens said. "The vast majority of water that we get that is delivered to the city comes from snowpack. (The storm) will add to the water in the canals, but it’s nothing as far as what we need in terms of a snowfall."
The heaviest rain was reported in Apache Junction, which received 1.30 inches by 9 p.m., Vasquez said.
Tempe had 0.55 inches, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport measured 0.54 inches, north Mesa had 0.67 inches, and northwest Gilbert had 0.59 inches.
"Typically in the spring that’s when we get these thunderstorms," Vasquez said.
The storms were expected to clear out Thursday night.