Storm one of biggest in Valley's history - East Valley Tribune: News

Storm one of biggest in Valley's history

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Posted: Friday, January 22, 2010 7:27 pm | Updated: 3:55 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The series of storm systems that passed through the Valley last week, which ended with a grand finale Thursday night, was one for the record books. "That was one of the largest storms (systems) to ever hit the state," said Mike Bruce, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

The series of storm systems that passed through the Valley last week, which ended with a grand finale Thursday night, was one for the record books.

“That was one of the largest storms (systems) to ever hit the state,” said Mike Bruce, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Phoenix.

The system, lasting five days, that blew in from the west wasn’t just noteworthy for the huge amounts of rain it dumped. That included 2.37 inches at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport alone, more than a quarter of the Valley’s annual average rainfall.

The granddaddy of them all, which hit Thursday evening, produced waves of power outages, prompted rare tornado warnings, runoff that breached banks and flooded streets and carried winds in excess of 70 mph, some of which toppled structures.

In Maricopa County, areas around Black Canyon City and Cave Creek bore the brunt of the nasty winter weather.

Those areas received between 7 and 10 inches over the week.

Closer to home, the Crismon and Thomas road alignments just outside of Mesa got about 3.6 inches, according to the Maricopa County Flood Control District. The area near Elliot and Hawes roads received 3.31 inches.

In Gilbert, residents near Ray and Greenfield roads received about 2.8 inches over the week, while about 2.5 inches fell near Queen Creek and Higley road.

In Queen Creek, the area around Signal Butte and Chandler Heights roads registered about 3.4 inches. In San Tan Valley, the area near Germann and Schnepf roads recorded 2.6 inches.

Chandler and Alma School roads in Chandler was doused with about 3 inches, while the city’s municipal airport saw a little more than 2 inches.

Charlie Ester, manager of water resource operations for SRP, said on Friday that the combined average amount of precipitation on the Salt River and Verde River watersheds over the last five days broke the 110-year record.

The downpour in the lower desert and snows up north prompted the utility to release water from Granite Reef Dam northwest of Mesa between Power Road and state Route 87.

“We started initial releases (Thursday) at about 3 p.m., and they were very small, like 2,000 cubic feet per second,” he said. “(We) ramped up continuously during the night and reached a peak of about 40,000 (cubic feet per second) (Friday) morning at 6 a.m.”

Ester said that amounts to about 12 home swimming pools per second.

In the aftermath of the rains and heavy winds, the Russo and Steele auto auction south of Loop 101 between Scottsdale and Hayden roads in Scottsdale decided to remain closed Saturday after two tents housing classic cars collapsed on Thursday.

One person was injured and some of vehicles were damaged.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Quinn said officials planned to reopen Sunday morning and would extend the event into Monday. She said car owners were allowed in for the first time on Saturday after the fire marshal said it was okay.

Quinn said she wasn’t able say how many cars were damaged or offer a cost estimate.

Although most of the clouds had cleared Saturday, forecasters say the sun may be temporary.

“I wouldn’t say it’s back to business as usual,” Bruce said, adding the weather is displaying more typical El Nino characteristics.

Bruce said the Valley could get hit by more rain by Wednesday and another storm system next weekend, but it won’t be close to the magnitude of the last one.

Tribune writer Mike Sakal contributed to this report.

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