East Valley residents took advantage of the sunshine after the storm Wednesday to clean up and resume outdoor activities normal for a desert winter. The sunny day was a brief respite from consecutive storms in the Valley’s wettest winter in six years.
Two storms on the horizon for this weekend are showing up weaker on the National Weather Service’s radar screens, but that doesn’t mean people can ignore the rain, said David Runyan, a meteorologist with the service’s Phoenix office.
"People need to sit back and reflect a minute on what they just recently experienced," he said. "Washes were flooded; some roadways were flooded. The desert was flooding. Any rainfall in the next couple weeks is probably going to produce some local flooding again."
Before that happens, East Valley residents and winter residents rushed to squeeze in activities that had been curtailed by the storms.
A shuffleboard tournament was held Wednesday afternoon at Aztec Travel Trailer Resort in Mesa after being delayed Tuesday, when the shuffleboard court turned into a miniature lake, activity director Jayne Reisetter said.
Some of the resort’s 358 residents said inclement weather was nothing new to them — the park has a large Canadian contingent.
"It’s better down here than it is at home," said Ralph Pickard, who arrived from Ontario a week ago for his second Arizona winter.
Pickard said the little bit of hail he saw Tuesday wasn’t what he would call a severe storm.
"I called home Sunday or Monday, and they were in the middle of a freezing rainstorm," he said. "It’s warmer here and there’s no snow."
Others in the East Valley shrugged off reports of more rainy weather and optimistically scrubbed mud from their cars at local carwashes.
Spencer June worked on his black Pontiac at Scrub-a-Dub Car Wash in Tempe and said it had been rained on the whole way back from a trip to San Diego this week. Weather reports prompted him to spend the night in Yuma on Tuesday instead of returning to the East Valley as he had planned, he added.
"That’s the first time I ever heard of a tornado warning in Phoenix," June said.
Like June, many residents said they were surprised by the unusual Arizona winter weather but didn’t seem to be bracing for more of it.
A pile of sand took up two parking spaces Wednesday at the Chandler Public Library, and plastic-wrapped sandbags lay next to it for residents’ use. Though the pile still bore the pockmarks of Tuesday rain, not many shovels came to fill sandbags. The sand lay untouched for much of the day.
The good, the bad and the wet
Good: Salt River Project officials say any precipitation helps replenish groundwater, especially when there’s a break between storms to let the floodwaters soak in, as there was Wednesday.
Bad: They also say about half that water will evaporate from the Salt River bed, which won’t help ease the drought.
Good: People can observe the technology of the inflatable dams at Tempe Town Lake in action.
Bad: The lake has turned into a murky, shallow river, and water sports are banned for the time being.
Good: The rain can help save money on lawn maintenance as residents turn off their irrigation timers.
Bad: Oversaturated plants and lawns can become sickly if the weather is too wet and cold.
Good: East Valley residents rediscover indoor activities with family and friends — Aztec Travel Trailer Resort had the best turnout ever for its potluck on Tuesday.
Bad: Outdoor activities such as golf and shuffleboard are rained out.
- Tribune writer TK Sawyer contributed to this report